$400m Polio Funds Not Stolen, Says Health Minister


• House c’ttee wants implementation of Health Act
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has refuted reports that $400 million donor funds to combat and eradicate polio melitus in Nigeria were either stolen or diverted.

The minister while speaking at the opening of a two-day hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services yesterday, called for caution in making utterances that are capable of presenting the country in bad light.

Adewole however, conceded that the funds might not have been managed properly.
The hearing was organised for stakeholders in the healthcare sector on the need to revitalise the Primary Health Care (PHC) system, and avert a health crises.

“$400 million polio money was not stolen, and we need to protect our image. When we splash this kind of stories on pages of newspapers, donors withhold funds as they say the monies would be stolen,” he said.

Adewole harped on the need for a sustainable health budget in the 2017 Appropriation.
“We became a laughing stock globally when the 2016 health budget was reduced by 33 percent. The impression is that we are not a serious nation….each time we talk about PHC, we talk about a pyramid: PHC as the foundation, secondary institutions as the building and tertiary institutions as the roof. Without the foundation, the pyramid will not stand,” he said.

The minister added that the aim of the federal government is to ensure that there is a PHC centre in each of the 9,244 wards in the country.

“FG does not own the PHC centres, but we own the policies.I have taken this campaign to the governors’ forum. It would surprise you to hear that some states do not have health budgets. Any state that puts in place a health budget and releases the funds for implementation, would get $600,000,” he added.

Speaking in his welcome address, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Chike Okafor, urged the government to implement the National Health Act starting with the funding of basic health care provision fund with no less that one percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

This, Okafor noted, would translate to about N38.6 billion in the 2017 budget.
“Delivering this funding could have significant impact and put the country on a path to better health once and for all. Evidence suggests that a 10 per cent increase in total health expenditure per capita leads to a 21 per cent decrease in under-five mortality rates and a 22 per cent decrease in infant mortality rates,” Okafor said.