By Sam Oditah
Umuahia (NAN) The Federal Government has disbursed $5.5 billion (N16.9 billion) grant to the 36 states and Abuja for the implementation of its Save One Million Lives (SOML) programme.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, disclosed this on Thursday at the opening of the 59th National Council on Health meeting, taking place in Umuahia, Abia .
Adewole said that the states and the Federal Capital Territory received $1.5 million (N457.5million) each from the fund.
He said that the one-off initial investment grant was disbursed in July, 2016, serving as an initial pump to drive the delivery of SOML indicators and enabled states to address legacy issues.
According to him, the programme seeks to catalyse change in the way healthcare is implemented by focusing on results and governance.
“The ultimate aim is to improve quality of lives of mothers and children,” Adewole said.
He said that the ministry would ensure judicious utilisation of the funds as enshrined in the programme implementation manual.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will ensure probity, accountability, transparency and prudence in the use of the funds given to states,” the minister said.
He said that the Ministry of Finance had finalised the engagement of an independent verification agent for the programme.
“This will usher in the disbursement of more funds, especially with the completion of the Multiple Facility and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys,” he said.
However, Adewole said that government was aware of the challenges states were experiencing in accessing the funds, saying that government was evolving all the bottlenecks.
The minister said that the ministry had concluded the operational meetings and had built the capacity of state programme officers on its management.
He listed the successes so far recorded by the Better Health for All Programme, a Rapid Result Initiative of the federal government, designed to promote health for the poor and vulnerable population with focus on access, affordability and demand.
Adewole said that through the programme, the federal government had offered free surgeries to 1,486 people, while 797 people had their eyes corrected for refractive errors.
The minister also said that 2,532 persons were screened for Hepatitis B, Cancers of the cervix, breast and prostate as well as hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
“Although the programme did not meet the target for 2016, we are planning to roll the initiative into 2017 and scale it up,” he said.
The minister said that the ministry recorded Lassa Fever outbreaks in nine states of the federation, including Osun, Bauchi, Plateau, Ebonyi, Ondo, Edo, Taraba, Nasarawa and Rivers.
He said that there were 86 suspected cases with 18 reported deaths in the affected states, adding that 33 cases and 10 deaths were confirmed by the ministry.
Adewole also spoke on the federal government’s intervention towards polio eradication in the country but regretted that access to three local government areas of Monguno, Jere and Gwoza in Borno was made impossible by the occupation of Boko Haram insurgents.
He said that the ministry conducted massive outbreak response in 19 states and Abuja and described the results as promising.
The minister thanked the president for directing the urgent release of the ministry’s 2016 budgetary allocation of N9.8 million for polio eradication.
He announced that the federal government had approved over N2.3 billion for the implementation of the Health and Nutrition Emergency Response Plan for Borno.
Adewole reaffirmed the commitment of the present administration toward revamping the Nigerian health system by making the Primary Healthcare as the fulcrum.
He appealed to state governments to invest in health and make it one of their political deliverables in their domain.
Declaring the four-day meeting open, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu said that his administration placed great premium on health, with emphasis on the development of the primary and secondary health institutions.
Ikpeazu said that his administration embarked on a deliberate policy of strengthening the secondary health institutions to provide effective support and supervision for the primary healthcare centres (PHCs).
The governor said that the intention was to use the experts at the secondary health institutions to add value to service delivery at the primary healthcare.
The governor said that the ultimate objective was to restore the people’s confidence in the PHCs.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) also reports that highlights of the event included the presentation of goodwill messages from groups, organisations and individuals, including the Senate Committee Chairman on Health, Sen. Olarewaju Tejuosho.
The minister, supported by the governor, inaugurated the Nkwoegwu PHCentre in Umuahia North Local Government Area of the state.