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Outrage In Senate Over Unused N1.5b Cancer Fund

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Outrage In Senate Over Unused N1.5b Cancer Fund

Outrage In Senate Over Unused N1.5b Cancer Fund
November 05
06:28 2021

Members of the Senate Committee on Health yesterday expressed worry over non-utilisation of N1.5 billion fund released to the Federal Ministry of Health for the treatment of cancer patients.

This happened as the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire and the Chief Medical Directors of Federal Government hospitals disagreed on the disbursement of N1.2 billion COVID-19 case management fund.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, had said based on records at his disposal, N729 million and N800 million of the cancer fund was released in 2021 and 2020, yet no single patient had been treated with the funds.

Ehanire and the Director of the Department of Hospital Services in the ministry, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi, said the Federal Ministry of Health had been ready since June to kick-start the programme but was waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari to officially launch the fund to attract private donors.

Not satisfied with the explanation, Oloriegbe gave the ministry up till the first week of December to begin the programme.

The senator directed the minister to launch the programme on behalf of the President.

He said: The ceremony is not necessary when patients are dying on a daily basis as a result of cancer.

“This special fund was not meant for warehousing but to be urgently used for the purpose for which it is meant.

Ehanire assured the lawmakers that the programme would be launched before the end of November.

Senator Betty Apafi also sought to know why the sum N10 billon COVID-19 funds appropriated for local production of vaccines in the 2021 Supplementary Budget had not been utilised with the year getting nearing its end.

Also, a heated argument ensued yesterday between the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 and the Ministry of Health over the disbursement of N1.2 billion case management fund.

The PSC Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, who was represented by a Permanent Secretary, Maurice Mbaeri, while appearing before the Senate Committee on Health, said out of the N1.8 billion budgeted for COVID-19 case management in 2021, about N1.2 billion was released to hospitals for treatment of patients.

But the claim was refuted by the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Adebiyi said no money was released to the hospitals after meeting all requirements.

Apparently confused with divergent submissions from the stakeholders, the lawmakers resolved to have a round table on a later date with the Minister of Finance, the Budget Office, PSC, the Minister of Health and heads of hospitals.

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