A local civil society organization, the Partnership for Sustainable Development (PaSD) on Friday, May 24, 2019, petitioned the Liberian government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to live up to its commitment by increasing the national health budget.
In a petition statement presented to the Ministry of Finance leadership, PaSD said the government needs to also create clear budget lines reproductive maternal newborn child and adolescent health (RMNCH).
The Abuja Declaration, signed April 2001 by several African Union countries, is a document that called for all African countries to allocate at least 15% of their annual budget to improve the health sector and urged donor countries to scale up support.
PaSD executive director Thomas Teah said during five fiscal years period from 2014 to 2019, the government spent less than the 15 percent of its national budget on health, contrary to what is stipulated in the Abuja Declaration. However, the government did well in 2018/2019 by spending 11.1 percent of its budget on health.
“But there was a 10 percent gap on the average during the five fiscal year periods mentioned earlier. Furthermore, during this period, the government did not fund RMNCH to reach 10 percent. The government,” Mr. Teah added, “has failed to live up to its obligation in the country’s national health financing plan, which called for the government to spend US$1,250,126,322 over 10 years on health.”
But the government, instead of spending US$495,888,812 million, during the five years period under review, it spent only US$30,020,508 million, which saw the gap of US$190,868,304 million.
If this trend continues, Mr. Teah said, “it will be difficult for the government to meet the funding threshold for RMNCH as clearly written in the national health investment plan.”
“Nevertheless, this situation can be tackled through the increment of public spending on RMNCH and sexual productive health (SRH),” he said.
Tanneh G. Brunson, Deputy Finance Minister for Budget and Development Planning, who received the petition, thanked the petitioners for reminding the government on its commitment to the Abuja Declaration and RMNCH.
“Rest assured as we look into your petition and see what we can do. It is not that the government does not want to act, the issue here is that we are faced with lots of challenges and cannot solve every problem at once,” Brunson said.