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Global fund accuses Nigeria of misappropriating malaria funds


malariaSuspends Funding Support To Nigeria
Geneva based Global Fund to Fight Malaria, AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has suspended further funding support to the National Malaria Elimination Programme of the Federal Ministry of Health (NMEP) over alleged misappropriation of its funds.

Other challenges identified by the Global Fund include weakness in internal controls around data collation and reporting and inefficiencies in the monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme.

The Global Fund is a 21st-century partnership organisation designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases.

The Fund, which is a major funding partner for Nigeria’s health interventions, raises and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programmes run by local experts in countries and communities most in need.

In a letter sent to the National Coordinator of the National Malaria Elimination Programme at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, obtained by The Guardian yesterday, Global Fund said its audit report revealed poor management of its Funds and interventions.

The areas identified as defective were listed as procurement of health and non-health commodities; supply chain management; financial and fiduciary management and program management.

The letter reads in part: “As you are aware, in 2015, the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General (OIF) conducted an audit of existing active Global Funds grants to the Republic of Nigeria.

“This audit assessed the effectiveness of the implementation arrangements of Global Funds grants and the design and effectiveness of the internal control environment in safeguarding Global Fund resources, covering financial and fiduciary matters, procurement and supply chain management and the programme management.

“The OIG audit found that the internal controls environment for Global Fund grants implemented by NMEP presents significant issues.”
The letter added: “In the light of the situation described above, the Global Fund has decided to (a) invoke the Additional Safeguard Policy for the Nigeria portfolio, which gives the Global Fund Secretariat a mandate to adopt actions to mitigate the significant portfolio risks identified and (b) suspend with immediate effect cash disbursements to NMEP, in accordance with Sector 10.2 of the Global Fund Grant Regulations (2014).”

Reacting to the development, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has called on the anti-corruption agencies to quickly investigate the issue and bring the culprits to books.

The civil society body expressed shock at the development, noting that it was coming at a time of perennial under-funding of the health sector in Nigeria.

Lead Director of the Centre, Eze Onyekpere, said: “For the NMEP of the Federal Ministry of Health to mismanage resources provided by the international donors/community to save Nigerian lives under the Global Fund is an attack of incalculable proportions on the right to health of Nigerians. It stands condemned. This is a national scandal and rubs negatively on the image of Nigeria at a time our government claims to be committed to the war against corruption.

“We, therefore, call on the anti-corruption agencies to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding this mismanagement as established in the audit report of the NMEP and bring the perpetrators to book. Nigerians expect the plugging of the leaks so as to avoid a repeat in the future. We also need guarantees of non-repetition. “The time to act is now!”

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