Doctors in Lagos State, under the aegis of Medical Guild, have called on the Lagos State Government to ensure full and timely release of budgetary allocations to the health sector.
The Guild Chairman, Dr Oluwajimi Shodipo, made the call in an interview on Friday in Lagos.
The Medical Guild is the association of doctors under the employment of the Lagos State Government.
The state government had earmarked N111.78 billion for its health sector from its total budget of N1.168 trillion for 2020.
The budgeted amount represents over 110 per cent increase provision for the health sector, compared to N53.141 billion allocated in 2019.
The state government had explained that the fund would be for the continuous upgrading of health facilities and completion of ongoing healthcare infrastructure, including Maternal and Child Care Centres and the health insurance scheme.
Shodipo commended the state government for the increase in budgetary allocation to the health sector.
He said that the challenge had always been the actual and timely release of funds and effective implementation of the budget.
“We appreciate that there has been an increase in the budgetary provision for the health sector.
“We hope that we can get to the target of 15 per cent budgetary allocation to the health sector as specified in the Abuja Declaration before the end of this administration.
“Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said he aims for about 90 per cent implementation of the total budget because it also involves the health sector, although, we are pushing for greater implementation of the budget.
“This is because the challenge we have seen over the years has been that different sums are budgeted for the health sector, but those funds were not released as and when needed,” Shodipo said.
In 2018, the state government allocated N92.68 billion, about nine per cent of its total budget of N1.4 trillion to the health sector.
However, the state released only N21.32 billion or 23 per cent of the allocated sum.
Shodipo stressed the need for further breakdown of the allocated funds and earmarked projects for the health sector to ensure transparency and accountability in the sector.
According to him, infrastructure and manpower are the two major issues affecting the growth and service delivery in the state’s health sector.
“The government is investing in building hospitals, Mother and Child Centres in different areas and trying to open up all parts of the state to healthcare which we support holistically.
“Meanwhile, we also need to realise that there is a critical manpower shortage which is getting worst.
“Lots of doctors are leaving the state for other countries and professions due to issues bordering on remuneration, working environment, housing and opportunities to grow in their professions.
“Quite a number of doctors who resigned and left the state are yet to be replaced.
“We are having an increase in infrastructure, health centres and numbers of people that are coming to hospitals.
“With the state Health Insurance Scheme coming on board, we are going to have more people. How are we going to cater for them when we have shortage of manpower,” Shodipo said.
He called for urgent need to recruit more doctors, nurses and other allied medical professionals to augment and assist the health sector to achieve quality and optimal performance.
The guild chairman urged government to ensure that more doctors have access to the state Rent to Own Housing Schemes, especially in areas close to hospitals.
He also urged the state government to invest more in training of medical professionals to boost their proficiency.
Shodipo said that a lot needed to be done to improve the state healthcare system, and commended the state government for making the sector a priority in its programmes.