Well being Secretary defends $200m mortgage to purchase mattress nets

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The Nigeria News Agency (NAN) reports that the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Loans has opposed a proposal by FMOH to borrow $200 million under the malaria program to buy bed nets in the 2022 budget.

The committee’s conviction came in response to the Department of Health’s submission on its intention to borrow funds to purchase bed nets for 13 vulnerable states.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mahmuda Maman had justified the proposal before the panel by stating that “the loan, if approved and drawn down by the National Assembly, will be used to medically combat malaria in the 13 orphan states, comprising 208 local government councils and 3,536 primary health centers.”

Upset at his submission, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe and other senators present pounced heavily on the permanent secretary.

Oloriegbe wondered why the proposed 2022 budget earmarked N450 million for malaria treatment when plans were made to borrow $200 million for the same purpose.

“This is unacceptable. We should be able to keep our feet on the ground when dealing with these donor organizations or creditors in terms of borrowing and use of the loans.”

In answering the question, the minister said that the amount in question was actually referred to a component of the World Bank-backed multilateral lending scheme and which involved the African Development Bank and the Islamic Bank.

“The project development was carried out by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Budget. The goal is for the Nigeria counterpart fund to complement a global malaria action plan.

“The main donors for this rollback malaria are three. The first is the US President’s Malaria Initiative, which has raised $295 million and will cover 11 states.

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is earmarking about $400 to help further curb malaria in 13 states across the country, which are states that have no financial support for this program.

“In order for our partners to fully cover their funds, these 13 states must be covered on the condition that Nigeria commits $200 million to the 13 states for five years and this covers 208 LGAs, 3,536 PHCs and approximately millions of the population,” he explained.

Ehanire said experts estimated the money would avert 78,000 deaths, 14.5 million diseases from malaria and provide 17. 6millon malaria services in these states.

“It is important that only 26 percent of this is planned net. The money is housed in the Treasury and the Health Ministry is just helping,” he added

Meanwhile, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye also announced that Nigeria was on the verge of starting production of vaccines to fight disease outbreaks.

According to Adeyeye: “Nigeria is now closer to producing its own vaccine and won’t be because it doesn’t have a regulatory body.

“Reaching the global benchmark would not have been possible without some in-country actions by the agency.

“The Global Bench has about eight functions . These include, but are not limited to, laboratory testing, market approval, market control, regulatory inspection and vigilance.

“We were asked to expand our laboratory. We have expanded the drug lab in Yaba and the vaccine lab is being built.

“The list that the WHO gave us says we have 868 recommendations. That number came from self-examination and that was in January 2018,” she explained.

Adeyey said the agency found through self-examination that the template the WHO gave the country had 868 conditions to be met by Oct. 15.

“We have complied with these recommendations. However, WHO needs to come physically to work through our facilities and announce that we have reached maturity and that won’t be too far from now.

“In terms of the new standard in terms of vaccine production, science is not static, it is dynamic, medical science is not static, we previously produced a yellow fever vaccine in Nigeria.

“The rules have changed and the rule is that anyone who wants to make malaria vaccine has to have a strong regulator. That’s why we had so many recommendations that we worked to fulfill,” she added.

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