A Non-governmental Organization, African Health Budget Network, AHBN, has called for an efficient and transparent utilization of the 500 billion naira COVID-19 stimulus Fund; a stimulus package from the International Monetary Fund, IMF to Nigeria.
According to a statement by the Coordinator of AHBN, Dr Aminu Magashi, out of the whole amount, the health Sector received 126 billion naira for interventions in key critical areas with the aim of building a resilient health system while non- health Sectors got 374 billion naira.
The Statement notes that from the funds earmarked for the health Sector, 86 billion naira was allocated for capital projects while 40 billion naira was allocated for recurrent budget items.
The statement further outlines some Agencies and Departments to receive funding for capital expenditure to include the Food and Drug Services Department of the Federal Ministry of Health with 10 billion naira for local manufacturing of Vaccines, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC with 2 billion naira for the upgrade of laboratory testing of Vaccines and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, NIPRD, with 2 billion naira for research and development.
Also, according to the statement, 18 billion naira was earmarked for the procurement of molecular laboratory equipment for 21 University teaching Hospitals and 31 Federal Medical Centers and Specialist Hospitals with an additional 7.7 billion naira for the procurement of Personal protective equipment for the hospitals and Medical Centers.
The statement further notes that 18.4 billion naira was earmarked for the equipping of a 10-bedded intensive care units in the 36 States plus the FCT.
5.2 billion naira was also targeted for equipping of isolation treatment centers in 36 States plus the FCT and 20 billion naira hazard allowance approved for health workers.
The statement also adds that from AHBN’s findings, reports from reliable sources indicates that 50 percent of the funds have been released to majority of the agencies concerned and most of them have commenced work in their organizations.
The statement therefore calls on agencies who have received part of the funds but have not started work to do so immediately as any delay in putting the money into use will be seen as sabotage to Nigerians.
It also calls on the Accountant General of the Federation to make information available on funds released to the public for scrutiny adding that the National Assembly should strengthen their oversight function.