By Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja
Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), a regional group that uses budget advocacy to influence adequate health spending, improved transparency and accountability is calling for transparent disbursement and utilisation of the US$114.28 million World Bank COVID-19 credit grant.
To this end, the AHBN called on Nigerian-based Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs),to follow up, closely monitor and ensure that the money is utilised for the purpose meant for.
Speaking while unveiling the spotlight on the Nigeria COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and response programme, with theme: ”To enhance accountability and Transparency” in Abuja, the AHBN Coordinator Dr Aminu Magashi noted that the money can make tremendous impact in nation’s health sector if properly put to use.
According to Magashi the US$114.28 million credit and grant was given to Nigeria by the World Banks for its COVID-19 Preparedness and Strategic Response Programme.
“This was financed by the WB through two sources, namely the International Development Agency (IDA/WB) credit at US$100 million, available through the Fast-Track COVID-19 Facility (FCTF) under the crisis response window and Nigeria’s IDA19 allocation; and through a WB grant financing at US$14.28 million, available through the Pandemic Emergency Financing (PEF) Facility.
“The project’s intervention, which is mostly at the state and local government level, was initiated due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 in Nigeria. It has a four-year life span which began in 2020 to end in 2023.
“The funds have been allocated to intervene in emergency COVID-19 response by allotting US$14.28 million for Federal Support and Procurement for COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response and US$90.00 million for Direct Support to States for COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response, while US$10.00 million was dedicated to the Management, Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation.
“The US$10.00 million includes US$5.00 million for Project Management and Coordination and US$5.00 million for Monitoring and Evaluation,” he explained.
The coordinator noted that the disbursement of the funds began in 2021 with Nigeria receiving US$70.00 million as the first tranche. He added that the country would then access US$42 million in 2022 and US$2.28 million in 2023.
“The objectives of the strategic preparedness and response programme are three-fold: to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness; to prevent, detect, and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 at the state level; and to strengthen public health systems preparedness and maintain essential health and nutrition services.
“The programme, which will be implemented by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), is targeted at the establishment of Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) and the activation of Incident Management Systems (IMS) for COVID-19; the establishment of at least three isolation/treatment/community support centers; the establishment of at least one state-owned laboratory with capacity to perform diagnosis of COVID-19 according to national guidelines; as well as the identification, monitoring and treatment of diagnosed/confirmed cases at the designated isolation or treatment centers,” he explained.
Magashi added that the AHBN was providing technical support to country-level accountability mechanisms such as the COVID-19 Finances Accountability Working Group in Nigeria to ensure transparency in the implementation of the WB project.
While calling on advocates in Nigeria to convene meetings with relevant officials within the Ministry of Finance, Office of Accountant General of Federation (OAGF) and the World Bank to ascertain the level of disbursement and utilisation of the US$114.28 million, he also stressed the need to engage the Minister of Health and the NCDC to determine the level of implementation of the Federal Support and Procurement for COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response.
He also called on advocates to engage the NCDC to determine the level of implementation of Direct Support to States, and also charged the media to beam its search light on the disbursement and implementation of the grant.
Also speaking, Mrs Chika Offor, co-chair of the Nigeria COVID-19 Finances Accountability Working Group and CEO of Vaccine Network for Disease Control, said that the
US$114.28 million can make a tremendous impact in Nigeria’s health sector if properly put to use.
“All CSOs and NGOs in Nigeria should be interested in following up these funds to ensure that it is used transparently and judiciously for the purposes it is meant for.
“The NCDC which is the coordinating agency must work hard to ensure that all funds released are put to immediate use. Nigerians are watching closely what happens with these huge funds,” Offor added.