Senate Vows to Probe $420m Global Donation to Fight Polio in Nigeria

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Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The Senate monday vowed to probe over $420 million donations to Nigeria by international organisations to assist the country in the global commitment to wipe out polio across the globe.

The parliament also tasked President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential Task Force on Polio Eradication and state governors to collaborate in a fresh move to achieve a polio-free Nigeria.
Addressing journalists in Abuja monday as part of the activities marking the 2016 World Polio Day, Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, said probing the huge fund donated to Nigeria for polio eradication was necessary to ascertain if the fund had been appropriately spent.

He also said misappropriation of foreign donations was unacceptable because it would amount to betrayal of the trust of the donors and consequently stall Nigeria’s bilateral and multi-lateral relations.

“We want to reassure all donors and partners of our resolve to ensure donor finds are also well spent and that they reach the masses that need them. Key funding agencies like Global Fund, GAVI and several others will be engaged by my committee to ensure mistakes of the past are avoided and that funds from these donors are used judiciously. We cannot afford mistakes of the past where funds for developmental projects from donors are improperly managed leading to sanctions on Nigeria from these donors. We cannot continue to be disgraced as a nation through mismanagement of donor funds and must work hard to gain or regain the trust of all donors, bilateral and multi- lateral partners.

“The committee is also preparing to beam its searchlight on the recent disbursement of $1.5 Million Dollars to the 36 states as the first tranche of money under the Saving One Million lives programme fir Results( SOMLPFor R). The Committee will like to review the process of how certain decisions were made with a view to strengthening the whole grant system in a manner that makes monitoring the states more rigorous this making stars more accountable on his the funds are used.

“The Committee is also currently studying the Midwives Service Scheme, MSS to determine whether it should be scaled up or not. This will be based on the reality of Nigeria’s economic situation as well as the need to align with the FG’s plan of making 10,000 Primary Health Care Centers functional. Indeed, our Nation has achieved significant milestone in the elimination of polio in our country and we will continue to push ahead.

“From July 24th, 2014 tiil August, 2016, Nigeria had no case of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) untii August 10, 2016, when two cases of WPV were detected in Jere and Gwoza local government areas of Borno State, North-eastern Nigeria where insurgency has made it impossible to reach children with Iife-saving immunisation and other important heaith care services including food, shelter and other necessary amenities.

“On 25th September, 2015, Nigeria was delisted from Polio endemic countries Iist by the World Health Organization (WHO). Currently, Nigeria is back on the list of Polio endemic countries joining Afghanistan and Pakistan that it had initially |eft behind. This is rather unfortunate.
“As at today, Nigeria has a total of four Wild Polio Virus (WPV) cases all in Borno State. This setback is a lesson that we should not be complacent after achieving a polio-free status for more than 24 months that Ied to Nigeria being declared a non-polio endemic country.

“On a positive note, the effort of the federal government to defeat the insurgents has led to the opening of news areas which has resulted in more children being immunised with the Polio vaccine (Oral Polio Vaccine, OPV and Injectable Polio Vaccine, IPV).

“This opening of newly accessible areas is a major window of opportunity that government and partners must seize to vaccinate all eligible children so that the population immunity will be raised thus preventing transmission of the Polio virus. But this window of opportunity also presents unique challenges of which the major one is resources,” Ohuabunwa said.