FG Warns North-east States against Misappropriation of Funds

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By Paul Obi in Abuja

The federal government yesterday warned the six North-east states against misappropriation of the $1.5 million intervention funds given for health care service delivery in their respective states.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isacc  Adewole, cautioned Commissioners for Health in the North-east to carefully utilise the save one million lives funds given to them  by the federal government in Abuja  at the launching the programme, to enable them receive more funds in the second phase of the programme in 2017.

He explained that the funds should not be seen as public treasury to be feasted on, and that states are expected to account for the funds after the implementation of the said programme.

The minister gave the warning at a meeting with health commissioners during the operationalisation forum of the save one million lives programme organised for the Commissioners for Health for Bauchi, Gombe Taraba, Adamawa and Borno, held in Maiduguri, Borno State.

Last July, the federal government presented a cheque of $1.5million each to the 36 states of the federation and the FCT to improve maternal and child health  in their states.

Adewole said: “Today I am to share knowledge with you on how you can derive maximum benefits from the save one million lives initiatives. I am impressed with your presence, however, I must say it clearly that the money given to you should not replace your budget for health, rather it is an addition, it is to augment, do not allow it to be the only budget for health in your state.”

“I hope we can still score you on your budgetary allocation on health, how much do you budget for health, how much do you release, how do you utilise it, how many lives do you save, how do you improve governance structure among others,” he stressed.

Adewole said the save one million lives initiative gives room for practical assessment of health performance and determines whether state government would be able to receive more funds in the coming year or otherwise.

He added that if there is no performance, there would be no reward and the reward is money, it means there would be no additional money to the state.

The minister urged state governors to allow states Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA) manage the resources.

According to him, Primary Healthcare is closer to the people and therefore channelling the resources to PHC would enable the end users access the resources easily.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Haj. Binta Adamu Bello, said they organised the programme in Borno State to show to the world that peace has actually returned to Borno and the North-east in general which was a’ clear manifestation of great achievement of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Bello observed that   ‘save one million lives programme result was a new strategy that have been employed to save lives of mothers and children and is in line with change mantra of the present administration. The programme has great   benefits and multiplier effects such as accessibility and utilisation of high impact essential commodities and services to consequently reduce maternal and child mortality in Nigeria”

Meanwhile, the ongoing Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) Programme which has targeted 10,150 surgeries as part of the Better Health For All Project of the federal government received a boost on Saturday as the International Society of Obstetric Fistula Surgeons (ISOFS) partnered with the programme to begin free surgeries for people with the Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) condition.

The minister was part of an operation to repair theVesico Vaginal Fistula cases at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja.

The Society which has repaired 50 fistula cases so far also carried out this operation in four other cities in the country including; Ibadan, Katsina, Minna and Abakaliki.

Adewole, during an interview with journalists after he personally participated in the surgical operation of one of the VVF patients at the Federal Medical Centre in Abuja at the weekend, explained that the RRI Programme was borne out of the need to respond to the critical need of the people and deliver on the mandate of promoting health with focus on access, affordability and demand.

The minister said he was delighted to flag-off the repair of Obstetric Fistula access through the Better for All Programme, a Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) in collaboration with the International Society of Obstetric Fistula Surgeons.

Earlier, Prof. Ogadosy Ojengbede the in-coming President of the International Society of Obstetric Fistula Surgeons said that the project was a demonstration of the commitment and passion of the federal government towards the plight of the people.

He maintained that women suffering from Fistula faced challenges in accessing treatment adding that with the commencement of this project, the poor and the vulnerable who hitherto could not afford the fistula treatment can beam with smiles.

“This Initiative is a step in the right direction. RRI is an overall agenda of the Federal Ministry of Health to conduct about 1000 surgeries on women suffering from fistula,’’ he said.

Also speaking, Dr. Habib Sadauki, the Country Project Manager of Fistula Care Plus Project under Engender Health (DFID funded project) who also participated in the surgery said that the fistula care project was implemented towards getting sustainability on the fistula repair project and getting the government directly involved to provide funds and commitment to ensure that the problem of fistula was addressed in Nigeria.

The Medical Director of Federal Medical Centre, Abuja, Dr. Chinwe Igwillo, expressed optimism saying that she was happy to have  professional gynecologists who participated in the surgery and have agreed to train more people on  Fistula  treatment at training centres located in the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan and National Obstetric Fistula Centre, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.