Senate kicks against $200 million mosquito nets loan request

The requests contained in three separate letters read at the beginning of plenary on Tuesday by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan. 3

The Senate on Tuesday kicked against plans by the Federal Ministry of Health to borrow 200 million dollars for the purchase of Mosquito nets for ‘13 Orphaned States’ (vulnerable states).

The Senate Committee on Health led by Sen. Yahaya Ibrahim Oloriegbe picked holes in the request insisting that Nigeria was already enjoying a loan from the Global Fund for Malaria for the same purpose.

The Committee also told the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry, Mahmuda Mamman, who made the submission in defence of the Ministry’s 2022 budget projections, that so far, the health sector received an increased budgetary allocation from the executive in the last two years.

It said the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly also made special budgetary provisions for the health sector to cater for the Covid-19 pandemic, as it insisted on “a clear picture of the total need of the ministry so that we know what it needs the $200 million loan from the World Bank for.”

The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Oloriegbe, in his remarks, berated the representative of the Ministry who he alleged did not present adequate proof to justify the loan request, adding that it is a strategy to provide “money and job for the boys” by somebody in Washington DC.

In its defence, the Ministry disclosed that the loan would be spread across 13 ‘Orphaned States’ (vulnerable) which have no access to Malaria funding.

According to the Permanent Secretary, the disbursement of the $200 million credit facility which is expected to be provided by the World Bank will also provide funding for Malaria treatment across 208 local government areas and 3,536 health facilities that have no access to malaria treatment facilities.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib also disclosed that the loan will also be used to procure nets/medicines for beneficiaries and medicines to drive required treatment; adding that it will also be injected to encourage local manufacturing of mosquito nets, and their distribution via mass campaigns

The explanation by the NPHCDA did not however go down well with the lawmakers who insisted on an additional document to provide clarity on the vexed issue.

Another thorny issue was the Covid-19 preparedness and response project, Cod – Pre 1 & 2, under the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC which made an initial application for $100 million for the 2018-2020 External Borrowing Plan.

The new Director-General of the agency, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, could however not provide adequate defence for provisions in the document submitted by the former DG.

He said the second Covid-19 emergency response sought an additional $400 million for the purchase of vaccines.

This again did not go down well with the Committee members as the Chairman; Senator Oloriegbe observed that domestic resources allocated to NCDC are huge and wondered “why it needs to borrow $400 million from the World Bank.”

The Committee further queried the presence of monies for a vaccine under NCDC and not the NPHCDA which it said has the legal, structural and technical knowhow to handle the issue

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