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Alarms Raised as Abuja to Cut Healthcare Budget

Plans by Nigeria’s government to cut healthcare spending risk undermining the country’s coronavirus response and severely impacting already strained services, health and transparency groups have warned. Funding for local, primary healthcare services will be cut by more than 40% this year in a revised budget expected to be passed into law in the coming weeks. The proposed cuts could affect immunisations, childcare, maternal healthcare and family planning services. Experts sound alarm over lack of Covid-19 test kits in Africa. Nigeria currently spends less than 5% of its federal budget on health. Dwindling oil sales, the crash in global oil prices and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are understood to be the reason for the cuts. According to Prof Innocent Ujah, the head of the Nigerian medical association, the proposed cuts have come just as more investment in health is needed. Nigerian authorities took early steps to try to contain the outbreak of Covid-19. But cases are steadily rising, doubling in the past three weeks to 12,000 infections. A number of challenges have undermined its test and trace strategy, including too few test kits. Just 80,000 tests have been administered, far lower than the country’s health officials want.