Experts Advice Government to Tax Mobile Phone Call to Fund Health

Experts Advice Government to Tax Mobile Phone Call to Fund Health
A coalition of civil society organizations (CSO) and professional associations including the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health at Scale (PACFaH@Scale) has advised the Nigerian government to charge one kobo per minute for every outgoing mobile phone call in the country to fund healthcare for the citizens. This advice was given on Monday at a press conference in Abuja held to mark the International Universal Health Coverage (IUHC) Day.

The international UHC day is celebrated every December 12. The theme for this year is “Unite for Universal Health Coverage: Now is the time for collective action.” The press conference was held ahead of a two-day workshop that provided the CSOs in the group an opportunity to learn more about UHC. UHC means all citizens accessing quality health services where and when they need them, and without suffering financial hardship. On innovative means to achieve UHC, the PACFaH @Scale coalition proposed that the government should introduce a mobile phone tax that will involve charging one kobo per minute on every outgoing phone call in Nigeria.

Speaking at the conference, the Vice President, Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (SOGON), Habib Sadauki, said the call for collective action to achieving UHC is very important because even other parts of the world are overwhelmed with providing healthcare for their people. Mr. Sadauki said the one kobo per minute proposal is not entirely a novel idea. He said as a former member of the House of Representatives, he sponsored the idea as a bill. He said the bill passed first reading in the House but, however, could not proceed because he did not make it back to the House.

He said, “The non-continuity of the sponsor does not mean the bill should die. Almost everyone uses a mobile phone. The Nigerian Communications Commission says there are 162.3 million active lines in the country. Pulling resources for UHC through that means will go a long way in assisting to achieve UHC.”

Also speaking at the conference, the Executive Director, Women in Media (WIM), Halima Ben-Umar, called on the three tiers of government to fund the second National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP II) and ensure accountability in its implementation. The NSHDP document was developed by the Ministry of Health and its development partners as a stewardship guide to strengthening health care delivery across all the three tiers of government in Nigeria.

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