By Asma’u Ahmad
The Federal Government has disbursed $55.5 million (N16.9 billion) grant to the 36 states and Abuja for the implementation of Save One Million Lives (SOML) programme.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, disclosed this at the opening of the 59th National Council on Health meeting, in Umuahia, Abia state.
Prof. 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.
Professor 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.
The minister 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 and thanked President Buhari for directing the urgent release of the ministry’s 2016 budgetary allocation of N9.8 million for polio eradication.
Declaring the four-day meeting open, Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu said his administration placed great premium on health, with emphasis on the development of the primary and secondary health institutions.