Governor Nasiru Ahmed el-Rufai has expressed concern over the demographic disaster that may weight down Nigeria if by 2050 the health of the majority of the citizens is not properly taken care of.
The governor, who spoke after a special meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja said that Nigeria is going to be 411 million people by 2050.
“Today, more than half of our population is very young and unless we try to educate them and by ensuring that they are healthy, we will face a demographic disaster.
“The truth is most Nigerians think that the dividend of democracy amounts to see a road pass by your house, water or electricity. Dangote and Gates reminded all of us today, is that there is something far more important than physical infrastructure – roads, electricity, water and that is our investing in the people.
“India and China have shown that a large population is not a problem, the problem is getting that large population to be productive by getting them sound education and good healthcare. “Unfortunately, this country has been consistently under-investing in healthcare. Our investments in education are below average even in Africa; our tax revenue in terms of GDP is the lowest in the world.
“We are moving towards certain disaster unless we recalibrate, focus as government leaders in collaboration with the private sectors and donors, to put our money into the future of our people. And the way to do so is to invest in education. This was the greatest lesson for us today.
“As governors, we are committed to scaling up what Dangote and Gates have been doing in our healthcare systems. Kaduna state is one of the state’s that has benefited strongly from the partnership, they have given us money but more importantly they have helped us focused on what is really important.
“We at NEC under the leadership of our Chairman, the Vice President are committed to ensuring that we make those choices that will make Nigeria great.”
“The national health insurance Act was passed by the precious administration and it provided for a first line charge on the consolidated revenue of one percent to be set aside to fund largely, primary healthcare and basic health care.
“The objective is for us to achieve universal health coverage. Unfortunately since the enactment of that law, the budgeting for basic healthcare provision has not been done. This year, our hope is that we have been assured by the leadership of National Assembly that as they are working on the 2018 budget, that one percent will be provided.
“Essentially, that one percent will be passed on as grants to states for spending on immunization and primary healthcare delivery and if that is that, it will go along way in improving healthcare delivery.
“Dangote has proposed a noble idea if I may say so, of introducing something similar to a company education tax, as you know companies pay a fraction of their profits to as education tax fund, which is what we use largely to fund tertiary institutions.
“He has proposed a similar health fund in which companies will pledge to pay a percentage of their profit that can go into a national health fund that can be managed jointly with private sector participation to ensure that primary healthcare receives appropriate funding for commodities, equipment and Human Resources.
“We have several primary healthcare centers across the country but they are just buildings without drugs, nurses and doctors and equipment. But with this proposal we hope to move forward, I think we have robust funding because it will be money that will be well spent.
“On the review of ERGP as suggested by Gates, it is not correct to say that the economic recovery and growth plan does not give primacy to human capital, it is not correct.
“The economic recovery and growth plan has enough provision for human capital, it is a federal government plan, what is needed is for states to have similar plans as well as adequate provisions for healthcare and education, because the bulk of the burden for healthcare and education really rests on states governments.
“The disease burden of the country is largely at the primary healthcare level and this primary healthcare system is broken completely, we need to rebuild it. It is the responsibility of the states rather than the federal government. The federal government identifies with funding, grants and aids. But essentially, routine immunization, primary healthcare, is the responsibility of the states.” [myad]