14 States Yet to Access N55bn Basic Healthcare Fund, Says Minister

Immediate past Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole

•  Senator accuses ex-minister of diverting N300m

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, yesterday disclosed that no fewer than 14 states were yet to key into the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) meant for primary healthcare in the country.

Adewole, who appeared before the Senate plenary to explain the state of federal health institutions across the country, emphasised that the affected states were yet to register for the fund to enable them access the N55.15 billion earmarked for primary health care in the country.

He listed the states to include Kebbi, Jigawa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Gombe, Rivers, Borno, Zamfara, Ondo, Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Ogun and Sokoto.

This revelation is coming just as Senator Kabir Marafa (Zamfara Central), has accused a former Health Minister, Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu, of diverting N300 million Intervention Fund meant for Federal Medical Centre, Gusau , Zamfara State capital, to procure mosquito nets in Enugu state.

The minister whose appearance at the plenary was sequel to a Senate resolution on May 8 over the deteriorating conditions of teaching hospitals in the country, also said only two public hospitals-the National Hospital Abuja, and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH)-have cancer treating machines in the country.

While disclosing that 22 states have so far registered for the BHCPF, the minister listed the requirements for accessing the funds to include presence of state health care development agency, state health insurance scheme and counterpart fund of N100 million.

He said he had also used the Nigeria Governors Forum and personal interactions with the governors of the affected states to stress the need for them to key into the fund but all had yielded no fruit.

The National Assembly had earmarked the sum of N55.15 billion in the 2018 budget as one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

Adewole lamented that most states have abandoned primary and secondary health care, resulting in overcrowding of tertiary institutions.

According to him, the collapse of primary and secondary healthcare centres have led to patients visiting tertiary health institutions for ailments like headache, malaria, and high blood pressure, among others.

Adewole said epileptic power supply and inadequate water supply were the major challenges of most tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

He further explained that Nigeria currently has 59 tertiary institutions, which include 22 teaching hospitals, 20 Federal Medical Centres and 17 specialist hospitals.

Meanwhile, Marafa, while responding to the minister’s presentation, accused Chukwu of diverting N300 million meant for the purchase of medical equipment in Federal Medical Centre in Gusau to Enugu State for procurement of mosquito nets.

The senator, who claimed to have discussed the issue with Adewole wondered why nothing had been done about it in the last four years.

“I was able to raise the said sum in 2012 as constituency project through the goodwill of people like the then Senate President, Senator David Mark and others based on complaints of the then Chief Medical Director (CMD) of FMC, Gusau only to discover later that the then health minister in connivance with his permanent secretary moved the N300 million to buy mosquito nets in Enugu State”.

Adewole, in his reaction, apologised on behalf of his predecessor and told the senator of the need for “us to forge ahead and move to the next level”.

The Senate also yesterday passed two bills after going through the Third Reading.

The bills are Theatre Arts Professionals Regulatory Council (Establishment, etc) Bill 2019 and City University of Technology Kaduna Bill 2019.

This was sequel to the consideration of the reports of the Committees on Establishment and Public Service and Tertiary Institutions and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).