The Federal Government is to receive $75 million incentive financing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen routine immunisation and broader primary healthcare services in the country.

The new financing was announced on Tuesday in Abuja during the signing of a five years agreement with Nigeria.

Under the agreement, the Gates Foundation will give Nigeria $75 million as the government meets existing commitments to increase domestic funding of its routine immunisation programme.

Nigeria was represented jointly at the agreement signing ceremony by the Ministers of Budget and National Planning, Finance, and Health.

A Finance Ministry statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday said the incentive financing will be invested directly in Nigeria’s basic healthcare provision fund.

It will be used to strengthen routine immunisation financing and other primary healthcare services for the poorest in the country.

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The statement said coming at a time the country’s revenue generation is constrained, the deal will direct new funds to Nigeria’s broader health sector, ”with more domestic resources dedicated to critical childhood vaccines”.

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, explained further.

“Childhood immunisation is one of the most effective and cost-effective health interventions. It is one of the few long-term investments in Nigeria’s human capital and future prosperity.”

Last April, the Federal Government, through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, finalised its Nigeria Strategy for Immunisation and PHC System Strengthening, 2018-2028.

The strategy outlined plans to spend $1.95 billion on immunisation services over ten years through the national budget and some World Bank loan financing.

In June, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, committed to supporting the strategy with extended donor financing as domestic resources scale up.

During the extended transition window, international donors, through Gavi, will provide Nigeria with $1 billion, in addition to the $1.95 billion domestic commitment.

Together, these funds will cover procurement of vaccines—the biggest share of the costs—as well as operational costs for routine and supplementary immunization activities, and PHC system support.

Regardless, even with the additional Gavi support and loan options, the government says the strategy financing strategy requires significant annual increases in funding for vaccines until the government assumes full responsibility after 2028.

Reduced Pressure On Budget

The Federal Government says the incentive financing with the Gates Foundation will help reduce the pressure on the overall health budget.

“There’s no question that immunisation is an all-around ‘best buy’ for Nigeria and extremely high value-for-money. But, we still have limited resources” said Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed said.

“This innovative financing will allow us to limit trade-offs in the health sector by ensuring that every additional Naira released for vaccines unlocks additional resources for broader PHC improvements.”

The BHCPF implementation formally began on January 8, 2019, with finances for critical PHC interventions for children, women and families and a focus on rural and underserved areas, by providing direct funding to facilities for operational expenses.

By channelling incentive financing through the BHCPF, the Federal Government and the Gates Foundation will ensure that those resources, like RI commitments, directly benefit Nigerians most in need.

“Full implementation of the NSIPSS will ensure millions of more Nigerian children are reached with vaccines and potentially save millions of lives,” Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said.

“Meanwhile, we know that a strong overall PHC system can take care of more than 80 per cent of Nigerians’ health needs. So full utilisation of the BHCPF will go that much further.”

Under the agreement, the Gates Foundation will provide up to $15 million per annum for five years to Nigeria for financing PHC.