FG Disburses N12.9Bn Through BHCPF

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Dr. Muhammad Pate.
Prof. Muhammad Pate.

The Federal Government has granted the disbursement of N12,911,010,871.74 through the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) for a quarter of 2023. 

These funds will be utilised in the third quarter of 2024. This follows the 2020 BHCPF guideline pending the review of the new guideline.

The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Pate disclosed this at the 7th meeting of the BHCPF Ministerial Oversight Committee on Thursday in Abuja.

In March, the Nigerian government had authorised the disbursement of N25 billion through the BHCPF across the states of the federation. These funds were earmarked for direct facility financing and workforce incentives across states.

Available data from the BHCPF and the Africa Health Budget Network show that from 2019 to 2022, funds disbursed through BHCPF amounted to an estimated N89 billion. According to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), only 7,250 out of the 35,514 Primary Healthcare Centres in the country currently benefit from the BHCPF.

Pate stated that, in line with Nigeria’s Health Sector Renewal Initiative and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s approval for a sector-wide approach, urgent and comprehensive reforms are being undertaken to improve the BHCPF.

“A sub-committee, set up by the Minister of Health and Social Welfare during the 5th Ministerial Oversight Committee (MOC) meeting in late 2023, leads these reforms,” Pate explained. “Key developments include the ongoing review of the BHCPF Guideline, with proposed reforms for the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) and NPHCDA already approved in March 2024. A thorough assessment has revealed significant flaws in the implementation of BHCPF, prompting all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to commit to immediate corrective measures.”

He added, “The MOC has approved the release of ₦25 billion to key health agencies to prevent disruption of services while awaiting the new guideline by the third quarter of 2024. These reforms aim to better align resources and improve health outcomes, such as increased antenatal coverage, skilled-birth attendance, immunization rates and overall health insurance coverage in Nigeria.”

The executive director of the Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Muyi Aina reported that two memos were submitted and approved by the MOC. “The first memo, jointly presented by the NCDC Gateway and EMT Gateway, outlined proposed reforms. These reforms focus on programmatic improvements at both state and national levels, as well as fiduciary interventions to ensure proper resource utilization.”

“The second memo focused on the disbursement of 12.9 billion Naira across all states for the third quarter, following a previous approval and disbursement of N25 billion for the first two quarters,” he said.

Aina emphasised efforts to improve the quality of primary health centers across states by utilising resources from both state funding and external sources like World Bank loans. “We have conducted assessments with the NHIA and states to identify facility gaps and prioritise improvements. The focus now is on working closely with each state to sequence the refurbishment of these facilities, starting with those most urgently in need of support,” he said.

Director-general and CEO of the NHIA, Dr. Kelechi Ohiri highlighted the importance of transparency in fund utilisation. “The meeting aims to ensure visibility into how funds are utilised, promoting openness about the allocation and expenditure of resources,” Ohiri said. “It provides an atmosphere to hold stakeholders responsible for their actions and decisions regarding fund usage, involving peer review and scrutiny from various sectors including government, employers, and civil society. This platform addresses challenges and constraints in implementing healthcare initiatives, aiming for collective resolution and proactive steps forward.”

Ohiri also disclosed that approximately 2.7 million Nigerians are now insured under this initiative, ensuring they have access to a minimum package of healthcare services at primary healthcare centers without out-of-pocket expenses. “We are working with the NPHCDA to improve healthcare quality in facilities, making sure services remain affordable and covered under health insurance. The initiative has spurred states to contribute their resources, with 25 states funding their own health insurance programs to support the poor and vulnerable, expanding coverage beyond federal efforts.”

Since the last 6th MOC, additional states have begun implementing their health insurance funds, accrediting multiple facilities to provide comprehensive care at the primary healthcare level. These achievements highlight the programme’s impact in enhancing healthcare access and affordability across Nigeria, driven by collaborative efforts between federal and state entities.

The Federal Government established the BHCPF in 2014, under Section 11 of the National Health Act, to provide funding to improve access to primary health care. It is designed to be financed from not less than one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the government and other sources, including donors’ contributions. The Fund provides a basic minimum package of health services (BMPHS) aimed at increasing the fiscal space for health, strengthening the national health system, particularly at the PHC level, and ensuring access to healthcare for all.

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