…Insists Ministry of Health Must Justify Demand
The Senate voted on Tuesday to reject the Federal Ministry of Health’s intention to borrow $200 million to buy mosquito nets for the ’13 Orphaned States’ (vulnerable states).
Sen. Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe of the Senate Committee on Health poked holes in the request, claiming that Nigeria already had a loan from the Global Fund for Malaria for the same purpose.
The Committee also informed Mahmuda Mamman, the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry, who submitted the submission in support of the Ministry’s budget forecasts for 2022, that the health sector had received enhanced financial allocation from the executive in the previous two years.
The National Assembly’s Upper Chamber also approved special financial provisions for the health sector to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the report, insisting on “a precise picture of the ministry’s complete demand so that we know what the $200 million loan from the World Bank is for.”
Sen. Oloriegbe, the Committee’s Chairman, chastised the Ministry’s envoy for failing to offer appropriate proof to justify the loan request, claiming that it was a plot to provide “money and jobs for the lads” by someone in Washington, DC.
In its defense, the Ministry stated that the loan would be distributed among 13 ‘Orphaned States’ (vulnerable) that lack Malaria funding.
According to the Permanent Secretary, the transfer of the $200 million credit facility expected from the World Bank will also provide funds for Malaria treatment in 208 local government areas and 3,536 health facilities that do not have access to malaria treatment facilities.
The loan will also be used to procure nets / medicines for beneficiaries and medicines to drive required treatment, according to Dr. Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA. It will also be injected to encourage local mosquito net manufacturing and distribution through mass campaigns.
The NPHCDA’s explanation, on the other hand, did not sit well with parliamentarians, who demanded an additional paper to clarify the thorny subject.
Another sticky issue was the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s (NCDC) Covid-19 preparedness and response project, Cod – Pre 1 & 2, which filed an initial application for $100 million for the 2018-2020 External Borrowing Plan.
Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, the agency’s new Director General, was unable to provide acceptable defense for elements in the prior DG’s document.
He stated that the second Covid-19 emergency response requested an additional $400 million for vaccine purchases.
This did not sit well with the Committee members, as Senator Oloriegbe pointed out that NCDC has a lot of local resources and questioned “why it needs to borrow $400 million from the World Bank.”
The Committee also questioned why vaccine funds were being held by the NCDC rather than the NPHCDA, which it claims has the legal, institutional, and technical expertise to manage the situation.