Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim (Rafsanjani), has charged journalists on health beats, to focus on reporting about the state of primary health care in the country.
He also tasked them to ask government thought provoking questions about the progress made by the Primary Health Care revitalizing programs, its embarked upon, adding, “it is good that you internalize these issues properly, to widen your ideas of focus”.
Rafsanjani, who was represented by Murtala Muhammad, Program Officer, CISLAC, gave the charge in Kaduna on Monday, at a Workshop On Basic Healthcare Funding in Nigeria with reference to Kaduna State.
According to him, the situation of Primary Health Care is worsens, as financial and political commitment from the Government is lacking; and in cases where there have been pronouncements, they have been partially or entirely not implemented.
“Inadequate funding and non-commitment of state governors and local government authorities to provide skilled manpower at the primary health care centres impede adequate health intervention.
“Thankfully, health is on the concurrent list of the government. This only signifies that indeed the government wants to pay attention to the prevalent health condition it can easily be achieved through serious implementation of health policies and redeeming of pledges at all levels.
“Zeroing in on Kaduna State, a closer look at the 2018 Budget of the state shows that the Health sector got N15.7 billion, representing 7% percent which is far below the recommendation of the 15% Abuja declaration.
“The situation is not much different from what is obtainable across the country in terms of budgetary allocation to health which explained the poor standard of the Primary health
“With your mandate to informing the public, you have the role to investigate these initiatives of the government to ascertain the progress made since its launch and also engage our state government to ascertain how they are faring in adopting these initiatives in their development agenda.” He added.
He explained that, “CISLAC has engaged several national and state legislators in the past especially prioritizing primary health care, from previous engagements with legislators both at the national and the states, it became obvious that there is seemingly crass lack of political will to perform oversight role on the executives. This in turn has brought about lack or in some cases inadequate oversight function on allocations to basic health care.
“This situation further jeopardises the case of the common man in the communities that cannot afford to fly outside the country for treatment. Although CISLAC believes that only through serious engagement with policy and lawmakers can this sorry situation be overturned. Hence the need to advocate to the legislators through capacity building and influencer communication to draw political will necessary for prioritizing primary health care and by extension improving funds for primary health care and other health components that impact the rural women and children.”
Speaking on the topic, “Unlocking Potentials from Primary Healthcare Through Investigative Journalism”, Chioma kanu, Program Manager CISLAC, noted that though, investigative journalism may be challenging and constrained by certain factors like; finances, access to information, threats to lives of Journalists, but it is highly rewarding for journalists and that, it can propel them to levels where others cannot get.
“They may even get international acclaims and awards. Investigative journalism is the panacea towards rebuilding our primary health care. It will bring about accessibility and attendance to health centres. It may also reduce cost, thereby enhancing affordability.”