Group advocates timely release of Anambra healthcare budget

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Lawrence Nwimo, Awka

The Strengthening Public Accountability for Result and Knowledge, SPARK 2 Project implementation team in Anambra State has advocated for a timely release of budgets and funds for the delivery of maternal and child health services in Anambra primary healthcare centers. 

The call was made recently during their meeting with the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in her office at the Jerome Udorji Secretariat, Awka, the State capital.

Addressing the Commissioner, the group said the timely release of funds for the care and provisions of the health facility will help boost the maternal and child healthcare delivery in the state. 

The Team Lead for the SPARK  Project in Anambra, Ugochi Ehiahuruike explained that the objective of the SPARK 2 project was to improve maternal and child health service delivery in the state as well as target the overall improvement of primary health centers in the state.

She recalled, “During SPARK 1, we focused on water provision and we intervened in three local government areas. In this second phase, we are focusing on maternal and child health with a target to cover six LGAs including Idemili South, Awka North, Aguata, Nnewi South, and Ayamelummand Onitsha. Apart from the six selected LGAs, we will be reaching out to other LGAs during implementation.”

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Ugochi who is an IBP, SPARK, and COMEN Consultant told the Commissioner that the visit was to seek collaboration000/ and partnership with the ministry for the project particularly in the area of budget and releases, emphasizing that nothing happens without budget and planning as the state economy is handled by the ministry.

Speaking on the approach and intended activities of the project, the SPARK Program Manager for JDPC Nnewi, Onyekachi Ololo, commended the government for having one of the best health statistics in the country and singled out the government’s free anti-natal and delivery services for praise.

“Recent statistics show that Anambra after all and neonatal death rate is low but there is a need to sustain it. We know the government is doing well in the health sector but our interest is for the state to sustain the tempo.

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“We solicit an improvement in terms of the gap between budget approvals and releases. The state should unlock potential sources of funding at the local government level. We have raised exams of monitors whose duty is to ensure that government gets value for all it is spending on healthcare projects.”

Contributing, Executive Director Civil Rights Concern (CRC), Okey Onyeka said that maternal and child health is a critical area that deserves close attention from government and nongovernmental actors, calling for greater attention to community sensitizations and mobilization efforts to improve utilization of intervention funds in facilities.

Responding, the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Hon Chiamaka Nnake, informed the SPARK team that massive interventions are ongoing in the health sector and that the government is spearheading them.

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“There are a lot of things happening in the health sector. In this regime, our health interventions are funded mainly by the state government, not donor agencies. The state is using development partners to implement its budget, not that they are bringing money, but we are leveraging their expertise.

“As of last year, after the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Health is next that almost accessed all its budgets. That is what the ongoing free antenatal nod delivery services are attracting people of other states to deliver here in Anambra,” Nnake said.

Speaking further, she said “Arrangments had been concluded to improve the condition of all the health centres through the local governments. The governor has approved their renovation and we are starting with 50 percent as well as providing them with solar lights,” she concluded.

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