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Senate to monitor $1.5m anti-polio grant to states


Polio immunisation

Polio immunisation

Probes alleged abuse of funds to tackle diseases

The Senate is to monitor the disbursement and application of the $1.5 million granted by the Federal Government to states to tackle the renewed threat posed by polio in the country.

At a press briefing to mark the World Polio Day in Abuja yesterday, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases, Mao Ohuabunwa, also disclosed that the upper chamber would soon begin an open investigation into the alleged abuse of the global fund for polio in Nigeria.

A Geneva-based Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) had indicted Nigeria for allegedly misusing funds meant to immunise millions of children against polio. The Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) were implicated in a fraud audit conducted by GAVI in which it alleged that over $400 million disbursed for the procurement of vaccines was grossly abused.

At his press briefing yesterday, Ohuabunwa said: “In this wise, my committee will ensure its statutory oversight functions on key government agencies and parastatals are conducted as and when due with a view to ensuring probity and accountability on how health-related, Primary Health Care (PHC) services are funded and implemented.

“We want to reassure all donors and partners of our resolve to ensure the funds 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.”

The committee chairman stated: “We cannot afford mistakes of the past where funds for developmental projects from donors are improperly managed leading to sanctions on Nigeria. We cannot continue to be disgraced as a nation through mismanagement of donor funds.”

Ohuabunwa further disclosed that his panel was preparing to beam its searchlight on the recent disbursement of $1.5 million to the 36 states as the first tranche of money under the Saving One Million Lives Programme for Results (SOMLPforR).”

Meanwhile, Nigeria has recorded another case of polio, bringing the total since August to four.

Despite this, the government and its partners are optimistic that by this time next year, Nigeria could be on track to being removed from the list of polio endemic countries again. The country is also hoping to sustain the momentum towards a possible polio-free status certification by the World Health Organisation (WHO) by 2019.

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