CSJ, USAID propose Health Development Bank to finance Nigeria’s healthcare sector

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a Civil Society Organisation, has presented a draft bill on the proposed Health Development Bank of Nigeria to its members and health stakeholders. 

NewsTimes learns that this was discussed during a workshop where various stakeholders in the health sector advocated for the establishment of a specialized Health Development Bank to address the financial challenges faced by the sector. 

The Lead Director of CSJ, Mr Eze Onyekpere, shared the proposal during the workshop which was titled:  “Innovative and Alternative Funding of the Health Sector,” which received support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the project “Strengthening Civil Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE).”

The proposed health development bank aims to provide a predictable and sustainable source of funding for critical health projects, ensuring funds are tied to specific results and milestones aligned with national health policies and goals. 

What he said

He highlighted that a significant portion of Nigeria’s health budget is allocated to recurrent expenditure, which leaves little room for capital investments in health infrastructure and upgrades. He, therefore, emphasized the need for adequate healthcare financing. He said, 

  • “The current state of healthcare financing in Nigeria has been a cause for concern, with allocations to the health sector averaging a mere 4.982 per cent of the federal budget over the last five years (2018-2022). 
  • “These allocations encompass capital, recurrent, statutory transfers, and other vital aspects of the health sector, but still fall far short of meeting the sector’s demands. 
  • “The CSJ’s proposal for a health development bank seeks to address the financial constraints faced by the health sector. 
  • “If implemented, the bank will provide a predictable and sustainable source of funding for critical health projects.” 

The proposed funding source for the health sector 

Additionally, Dr Chidi Sundayson, CSJ’s Programme Manager, Public Finance, presented a paper proposing that a tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB) be an alternative funding source for the health sector. 

He estimated that such a tax could generate approximately one per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), equivalent to USD 4.77 billion, which could significantly contribute to healthcare funding and strengthen the nation’s health systems. 

He said,  

  • “In light of Nigeria’s current revenue challenges and mounting debt burden, adopting the SSB tax as an alternative funding source is a critical consideration. 
  • “By ploughing back, the resources generated from the tax into the health sector, transparency and accountability can be ensured through well-designed systems for tax collection and administration.” 

days on added that the SSB tax offered a promising opportunity to bridge the funding gap and improve healthcare for all Nigerians. 

The workshop gathered stakeholders from various sectors, including the pharmaceutical industry, media, civil society organizations, Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs), and health officials from different states across Nigeria. 

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