Bill Gates

The Federal Government has entered into a new financing agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at strengthening routine immunisation (RI) and broader primary healthcare (PHC) services.

Under the agreement, Nigeria will receive incentive financing of up to US$75 million over five years from the Gates Foundation as the government meets existing commitments to increase domestic funding of its RI programme.

Nigeria will be represented jointly by the Ministers of Budget and National Planning, Finance, and Health.

A statement from the federal ministry of finance on Tuesday explained “the incentive financing will be directly invested in Nigeria’s Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), and used in strengthening RI financing and other PHC services for the poorest.”

Coming at a time when the nation’s revenue generation is constrained, the statement added  “the deal will direct new funds to Nigeria’s broader health sector even as more domestic resources are dedicated to critical childhood vaccines specifically—creating a win-win opportunity for essential PHC services to grow in tandem.”

It added: “Childhood immunisation is one of the most effective and cost-effective health interventions, and I can think of few better long-term investments in Nigeria’s human capital and future prosperity,” said Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, the Minister of Budget and National Planning.

Last April, the Federal Government—through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency—finalised its Nigeria Strategy for Immunisation and PHC System Strengthening, 2018-2028 (NSIPSS), which outlined plans to spend US$1.95 billion on immunisation services over ten years via the national budget and some World Bank loan financing.

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

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

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

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

The statement noted: “While Federal Government planning accounts for this, the incentive financing with the Gates Foundation will help reduce the pressure this creates on the overall health budget by providing new grant financing for PHC each year as domestic vaccine financing commitments are met.”

Minister of Finance Mrs. Zainab Ahmed stated: “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.

“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 Nation)