By Asma’u Ahmad
The Federal Government has signed a 70 million Euro grant agreement with the European Union (EU) to improve access to effective healthcare and nutrition in five states and push for polio eradication programmes.
Speaking at the signing ceremony on Thursday in Abuja, Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria, Mr. Michael Arrion said EU considers support to the health sector in Nigeria a priority.
Mr. Arrion said the importance of improving maternal and new-born health outcomes and strengthening the health system resilience was emphasised in the partnership agreement with the Federal Ministry of Health.
He described strengthening health resilience as an important element for drawing up the National Strategy Paper of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) jointly signed by European Commission and the federal government.
According to him, the EDF had earmark 512 million Euro support to Nigeria over a five-year period under which this 70 million Euros grant is funded.
He explained that the EU is working with Nigeria to address developmental challenges in key priority areas under the 11th EDF.
He urged the stakeholders to jointly resolve to optimise this additional support towards ensuring better health and eventual universal health coverage for all.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said the grant would be implemented by the ministry, World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ministries of health of the benefitting states.
He listed the benefitting states as Adamawa, Bauchi, Kebbi, Sokoto and Anambra.
“The grant will strengthen 774 PHCs, and it will contribute to the revitalisation of the 774 PHCs; promote maternal and new born health in Adamawa, Kebbi and Bauchi states.
“For Anambra and Sokoto states the grant will strengthen healthcare system and contribute to the polio control so that beyond this year Nigeria will be completely free of polio,” Prof. Adewole said.
Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi, who responded on behalf of the benefitting states, commended the minister for realising the fact that states are the population centres, thereby pushing the projects to states.
He therefore requested the beneficiaries to use the grant judiciously and built the internal capacity; days should be gone whereby projects like this were implemented through consultants.
He expressed concerned that engaging consultants in projects like this will make more resources to go to the consultants than the target groups.