Kaduna Lawmakers Tasks on Health Financing and Leadership
By: Femi Mustapha
Save the Children International, in collaboration with other partners, has organized a legislative capacity-building and engagement workshop for members of the Kaduna State House of Assembly to enhance their capacities in Health Financing and Leadership.
The two-day workshop, held in Abuja, has its objectives centered on gathering knowledge and utilizing the information to develop implementable processes, tools, frameworks, and a strategic legislative Health Agenda for strengthening healthcare. Another objective includes understanding the legislative function and how it impacts health outcomes.
Speaking at the commencement of the workshop in Abuja on September 18, 2023, the Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon. Yusuf Liman, emphasized that for the state to fulfill its responsibilities to the citizens, it cannot function in isolation. It requires good governance in terms of policymaking, appropriations, oversight, and accountability mechanisms.
He called on Members of the House to seize this opportunity to enhance their capacity so that, as elected legislators, they would be well-informed about policies and laws governing the healthcare system and be able to allocate adequate resources to the Ministry of Health, particularly in Health Financing.
In her remarks, the State Commissioner for Health, Hajia Umma Ahmed, stated that to guarantee universal access to essential healthcare packages, increase access to healthcare services, improve the quality of healthcare delivery, boost demand for healthcare services, and provide financial access for vulnerable groups, the State Government has launched its Health Care Financing Policy, Strategy, and implementation plan.
She added that the state is at the forefront of formulating sound policies, especially regarding health and education, and urged the lawmakers to make the best use of the lessons learned at the workshop to improve the healthcare system for the benefit of the people, especially the vulnerable.
Fielding questions from journalists on the sidelines of the workshop, the Director-General of the Kaduna State Health Contributory Authority, Abubakar Hassan, emphasized that the provision of adequate and sustainable financing is vital to effective, efficient, and equitable health system performance and requires the support of the lawmakers.
Hassan explained that despite several health reforms initiated by the state government in recent times, there remains a gap in the provision and uptake of quality healthcare services in the state. He stressed that the availability of funds would help remove financial barriers to accessing healthcare and ensure that all citizens, especially vulnerable groups, have timely access to quality health services.
During his presentation, Yusuf Ishaku Goje of CS-Legislature Engagement & Accountability Platform (CLEAP) emphasized that for the state to continue building and strengthening a preventive, well-equipped, accessible, and affordable healthcare system, there is a need for collaboration between legislators.
According to him, the role of legislators must evolve from being mere spectators to active collaborators in Health Financing. He expressed concern that legislators and ministries often only meet when there is a budget to defend or a disease outbreak to address.
Goje reminded the lawmakers of their social contract with the people who elected them, which includes reducing maternal and child mortality, expanding access to vaccines and medications, increasing enrollment in contributory health insurance, supporting senior citizens with subsidized care, expanding awareness of chronic conditions, and sustaining the allocation of 15% or more of the annual state budget to health.
Farouk Abdulkadir, the Advocacy and Campaign Coordinator of Save the Children International, stated that the workshop’s objectives include deepening the legislature’s understanding of Health Financing and Leadership, particularly in the realm of Health Services. He also highlighted the workshop’s aim to enhance lawmakers’ capacities in Health Financing and Leadership roles to develop a legislative health agenda.