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Fund Primary Healthcare, Bill Gates Begs FG

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The co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, has called on the Federal Government to improve budgetary allocation to primary health care system in Nigeria in order to attain the level of some other countries that have lower income but have done a better job with the primary health care system.

He made the call while speaking with selected journalists around the world in a conference organized ahead of the release of the 2019 Goalkeepers Report today. He said one challenge that Nigeria has is that the amount of money that the government raises domestically is quite small compared to other countries.

The Goalkeeper Report is the foundation annual report card on the world’s progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.

“A lot of countries at that level will be rising closer to 15 percent of GDP and Nigeria is one of the lowest in the world down at about 6 percent. And so, it is a huge challenge that when you want to fund infrastructure, health, education, all those things, that over time the tax collection, the domestic resources are going to have to go up quite a bit.

“That’s a long-term effort and I think partly by making sure the current resources are spent well like on primary health care, you gain the credibility that the citizens will say, okay, we want more of these things. If we don’t raise the quality, you can get into a trap where they don’t feel like paying the taxes actually has that much impact, and so they’re not supportive of that. He said his foundation is working hard in the country,

“Nigeria is a super-important country and one that the foundation has an office. We did a lot of work in Nigeria on polio and we learned a lot doing that. Nigeria has gone almost three years now without having a polio case.

“The biggest priority we have, although making absolutely sure we’re done with polio remains a big priority, now we’re able to focus even more on the primary health care system. Bill Gates said when he was in Nigeria sometime ago that he had videoconferences with state governors. ”

"If we can make the six states into exemplars, then these practices can be extended to all 18 of the northern states. There are best practices down in the south as well that we can learn from that as well. And so, you know, building on what we were able to achieve with polio and the relationships we’ve built there and our commitment, starting with primary health care, we think that Nigeria can tackle its inequality.

“If I had one wish for Nigeria, it would be that the quality and funding of the primary health care system would achieve the level of some other countries that are lower income but have done a better job with the primary health care system. So, it definitely is doable.

“In Nigeria for a lot of the work we do there we’re partnered with Aliko Dangote, who helps us understand who the good partners are and exactly how we can reach out to groups like the traditional leaders and get them involved in these efforts as well.

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