Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The federal government is about to secure a $250 million World Bank facility to fund intervention programmes to check malaria disease in 13 states of the federation, which are not currently covered by the existing government intervention programmes.
The affected states include, Borno, Kogi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Ekiti and Bayelsa, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The National Coordinator, of the National Malaria Elimination Programme, Dr. Audu Bala Mohammed, stated this yesterday at the third annual summit of legislative network for universal health coverage held in Abuja.
He said the National Assembly had approved the proposal to secure the $250 million World Bank loan to tackle malaria.
He added that presently, the federal government’s malaria intervention covers 24 states out of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
“Before now, we were required to cover the whole country but because of this donor fatigue, the amount of money they are giving is not enough to go round the states; so, we have to restrict it to 13 states for the global funds, which are a major donor and 11 states benefiting from presidential malaria initiative. So, we have 13 states where currently we don’t do anything with them and we have to find a way to fill the gap. “ So, at the moment, we are in the process of securing $250 million from the World Bank to tackle the malaria scourge in the remaining 13 states so that the disease can be addressed in a more holistic manner.”
According to Mohammed, 25 per cent of world malaria cases are found in Nigeria, while 19 per cent of deaths recorded from malaria disease worldwide are also in the country.
He said Nigeria had recorded some progress in reversing malaria cases from 42 per cent to 37 per cent within five years when the whole country was aggressively covered before the present relapse.
Mohammed said in order to eradicate malaria scourge, there has to be aggressive intervention on sustainable basis and not small measures or the present partial coverage in some states.
He explained that the federal government has made a proposal of $1.5 billion in its 2014-2020 strategic action plan to address malaria scourge.
Mohammed, however, lamented that this estimate is far from being met, adding that instead, sources of funds are shrinking due donor apathy.
Also while making his presentation at the summit, the Director General of the National Centre for Disease Control in Nigeria (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, said almost all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT were faced with one form of disease epidemic or the other.
He said beyond the few states where disease epidemic has been reported, other states in the country were threatened by other endemic diseases.
While declaring the summit open, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, who was represented by Senator Robert Ajayi Borrofice, assured the gathering that the National Assembly will always treat health issues with priority it deserves.
He expressed the hope that the one per cent intervention fund set aside from the country’s consolidated revenue account for basic healthcare will be appropriately utilised to deepen health coverage.
He also said the newly signed law on oil production sharing contract would provide government additional $1.6 billion to be channelled towards development of the country.
Similarly, the representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ibrahim Mamodu, urged governments at the federal and state levels to ensure that budgetary allocations to the health sector are not only released in full, but promptly too.