WAVA supported the hosting of a policy dialogue for immunization budget tracking organized by the National Immunization Financing Task Team (NIFT) on July 26, 2017 at Treasure Suites Hotel, Abuja. Led by NIFT Chair, Dr. Ben Anyene and Deputy Chair, Committee on Healthcare Services at the House of Representatives, Hon. Muhammadu Usman, the meeting gathered stakeholders working in budget tracking to delve more into the subject matter.
The objectives of the meeting were to:
- Understand the landscape of budget tracking activities in the country
- Share experiences on budget tracking challenges and solutions
- Share information on where to access resources on budget tracking
- Obtain information to create a NIFT training module for immunization budget tracking for utilization by NIFT members
During proceedings, WAVA Founder, Dr. Chizoba Wonodi made a presentation on the landscape of budget tracking in Nigeria. She also gave a discourse on measuring civil society organizations’ (CSOs) contributions to immunization. Following her discourse, Dr. Henry Ewunonu of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) made a very significant remark that underpinned the essence of the gathering. He said: ‘Unless a budget has delivered service to the people, the budget has not performed.’
Afterwards, CSOs – Community Health and Research Initiative (CHR), Connected Development (CODE) and BudgIT – shared experiences on their budget tracking activities in their respective areas of interest, their challenges and the solutions they proffer. Following the experience sharing, participants highlighted some key deductions as to what stakeholders could do better:
- The oversight responsibility of legislators should be brought to bear. There was a need to harness those powers even more during budget tracking, while CSOs could support with information dissemination to the legislators with which they could act on.
- There should be a sanction for defaulters of budget processes on all sides. It was deduced that a critical activity in budget tracking is procurement, as disbursing funds to the wrong person brings about corruption. Thus, players who have the capacity to deliver the job should be engaged.
- There was a need to have a proper resource accountability, which starts with an understanding of the dynamic of the Nigerian environment. This also entailed communities asking the right questions to inform policy making and the need for data literacy.
Activities quickly sprang into a group discussion on three thematic areas, namely: resource generation (in the face of rising debt), planning and budgeting; budget release and procurement processes; and project implementation and community/stakeholder engagement. Three groups were formed and answered the following questions on their thematic areas:
- What needs to be tracked (indicators and data)
- Who provides and receives the information (stakeholders engaged and for what)
- How is budget tracking done and at what level
- Why is immunization budget tracking important?
The policy dialogue resolved that NIFT would expand on the preliminary survey to develop a robust landscape of health budget tracking in Nigeria and establish a community of practice to further discussions that begun at this meeting. Also, inputs from the groups’ discussions, experience shared and presentations made are to be harnessed in developing a NIFT training manual for immunization budget tracking to be utilized by proponents in Nigeria. It was also resolved that budget tracking was critical for evidence generation for sustainable immunization financing. Other organizations in attendance included co-hosts Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), E4A-MamaYe, MacArthur Foundation, ONE Campaign, Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), Traffina Foundation and Vaccine Network for Disease Control (VNDC).