By Asmau Ahmad
The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba said the Federal Government had intervened in 52 federal medical centres and teaching hospitals across the country.
Agba made this known during an inspection visit to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) and the Psychiatric Hospital in Benin.
He noted that the 52 health institutions benefited from the building of molecular laboratories, well-furnished intensive care units and Special Care Baby Units (SCBU) among others
“During the advent of COVID-19, we came up with an economic sustainability plan with a budget size of N500 billion which we got from some special accounts.
“And within that budget, we thought we should intervene in the federal tertiary institution across the country, to build resilience in our health sector.
“In 2020, I will say there were only two Molecular laboratories across the country but today, the FG can boast of about 52 molecular labs and of course UBTH was a beneficiary,” he said.
The minister explained that the president approved and released N950 million to each institution to intervene in four areas.
Agba said the funds released were to build intensive care units, special baby care units and molecular laboratories and get them furnished.
“You will recall that during that period COVID was new and we didn’t quite understand it, so there was a need to protect the workers, so we also invested money in the provision of Personal Protective Equipment.
“I recall visiting here in 2021, and I saw the work that was ongoing, the molecular lab has been completed but the ICU and isolation centre were still under construction.
“So, I thought I should pass by and see what has been done with the funds that were provided by his Excellency, the president,” he added.
He stated that he was responsible for the costing of the projects, allocation and disbursement to the various medical centres, including teaching hospitals.
The minister also disclosed that the 2023 budget had also provided for intervention funds for 13 teaching hospitals, adding that UBTH and the Irrua specialist teaching hospitals would also benefit.
“We were able to access some additional funding and we thought it should be put to the health sector.
“So, to that extent, we made an additional provision of N1billion to UBTH as well as Irrua specialist teaching hospitals in Edo,” he explained.
Agba further disclosed that the Japanese Government in 2019, provided funding of about $18 million to support in communicable disease areas and provide NCDC with equipment.
“The intervention was to be in seven centres in the country. We also tried to ensure that two centres in Edo were covered, Irrua and UBTH,” he said.
In his response, the Board Chairman of UBTH, Bashorun Adedoja Adewole, thanked the Federal Government for the different intervention projects in UBTH.
Also, the Medical Director, Psychiatric, Benin, Dr Imafidon Agbonile who took the Minister round the newly constructed molecular lab and other projects in hospital, thanked the minister for the interventions.