By Akinwale Kasali
The Lagos State Government has been charged to invest more on Health Security and the COVID 19 Pandemic.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other critical stakeholders interested in the country’s health security made this call on the Lagos State Government to make available more financial resources and institutionalise financing mechanisms for COVID-19 and health security in the State.
They made the call at the end of a two –day retreat to review draft national and states scorecards on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health Plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N) and COVID-19 and Health Security Accountability, championed by Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), in Lagos.
The COVID-19 and health security accountability scorecard were developed through the adaptation of indicators from the World Health Organization (WHO) and review of government documents as well as advocacy/retreat meetings with relevant government agencies, CSOs, media and young people.
The scorecard was developed to report a CSOs review on Lagos state’s capacity for preparedness and response to health security and COVID-19.
The scorecard serves as an evidence tool to be used by all stakeholders including CSOs, professionals and other stakeholders to strategically influence actions that will mobilize resources, promote prudent spending, transparency and accountability of COVID-19 and health security fund.
“To achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030, domestically financed public resources will play a predominant role in keeping Lagos state and the country’s collective commitments toward attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Achieving quality health care will also strengthen the state’s ability to be better prepared for future pandemics, in a context where health security is increasingly important for economic security.
“Strengthening pandemic preparedness and response efforts, and overall emergency preparedness, requires strong and resilient health systems while investing more and better requires sustainable public financing and harmonized health efforts,” says Hon. Mohammed Usman, Chairman, National Advocate for Health (NA4H).
The CSOs advised the Lagos state government to focus on building stronger and more equitable health security to promote recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that would leave no one’s health behind in the state.
They further called on the State Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance to publish the state government 2021 and 2022 COVID-19 and Health Security expenditure report.
The CSOs further called regular engagement and collaboration with the state Ministry of Health to monitor/track allocation, availability of adequate COVID-19 donor support, loans and government vaccines in all the state`s vaccination releases for health security and COVID- centres aimed at increasing uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in the state.
The CSOs said that the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency should strengthen community and CSO involvement to increase the utilisation of COVID-19 vaccines, improve routine immunization performance and support factual public information on COVID-19 across the state.
The Coordinator of Africa Health Budget Network, Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba also called on the state government to strengthen legislative oversight on budget performance for the implementation of the Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Adolescent and Elderly Health plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N), Recovery Plan in the state.
“The global pandemic is not yet over and the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has insisted there is considerable uncertainty about the path that the pandemic will now take in the country.
“Therefore, the Lagos state should collaborate with communities and CSOs to set out how it will ensure resilience, maintaining contingency capabilities to deal with a range of possible scenarios.
“Besides face masks, social distance, and good hand hygiene, a rapid vaccine program is crucial in controlling the pandemic.
“However, willingness to be vaccinated depends to a large extent on factors beyond the availability of vaccines,” Garba stated.