FG cancels plan to build 10,000 PHCs

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It was gathered that the Federal Government may have put off its earlier plan to build 10,000 primary health care centres across all senatorial zones across the country, it was learnt Thursday.

Nigeria's Minister of Health Isaac Folorunso Adewole attends an emergency National Council on Health meeting on the control of Lassa Fever in Abuja, Nigeria January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde - RTX231AG

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the decision to cancel the project was on the advice of Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who felt that the states may not be able to meet up with their contributions.

Adewole spoke during an audience with Under-Secretary-General and Executive-Director, United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin in Abuja

Absolving the Finance minister of any blame, Adewole said the minister (Finance) had earlier pledged upon assumption of office that the PHCs would be made available by President Buhari-led administration within four years, and that the nation’s health systems would be driven through it.

But with the turn of event in the country, she was concerned that the states may not be able to meet up with their contributions. This, Adeosun said will be a burden on the Federal Government.

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Minister of Health had on Tuesday assured the country that government would harmonize various departments in the ministry for effective performance. He said most of the health projects in the country are funded by sponsors, and that the best way to show seriousness as a government, and appreciate such aids is to expend the funds through a well-coordinated channel.

He said of the PHC’s: “Truly, we came up with the agenda of revitalizing one PHC per political ward, that would lead us to ensuring 1000 PHCs are in place. But, then, there is a problem. Government set up an inter-ministerial committee. At our first meeting, it was obvious, the Minister of Finance said ‘wait a minute, when you take this up, the local government and states will abandon its responsibility. And, when they abandon it for you, you are in trouble.

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“About 40 percent of the resources go into personnel cost. So, if you want to bear the responsibility of the resources, you want to bear responsibility for commodities, then, what exactly will the states be doing?

“So, we are trying to repackage the concept. We are taking on one hundred and ten for pilot. We are going through the backdoor, using the Save-One-Million-Lives, which is actually $500 million facility from the World Bank. We’ve given out to the states as grant, and what we’ve done is to advance them and advance payment at $1.5million. Use this, and then, in a year’s time, we would re-evaluate and match you with you. In other words, we compared, say Lagos State in 2015 with Lagos State in 2016. We then advance them with rewards based on improvements. And, I’ve been talking to many of the state governors, saying use this to strengthen your primary health care system. I think many of them are listening. If they do not invest, there will be nothing for them next year.”

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He added that one of the core goals of the ministry under his leadership is promote family planning services as the best way for mothers to plan and live their lives meaningfully.

In his remark, Prof. Osotimehin, who was accompanied by Permanent Secretary, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, DfID, Mark Lowcock, expressed the concern of UNFPA and DfID over high maternal death rate in the country.

He however reiterated the support of international community for the country to reduce the incidence. He however informed that family planning would effectively reduce the deaths by 30 percent, and that it should be embraced by all people in the country.

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