Few days after PREMIUM TIMES reported how a Nigerian company was indicted for an alleged $3 million fraud by Global Fund, President Muhammadu Buhari has demanded a periodic performance report on Nigeria’s latest grant of $890 million.
Last June, the health minister, Osagie Ehanire, announced that Nigeria received $890 million grant from Global Fund to reduce the burden of HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria over an implementation period of three years, beginning from 2021 to 2023.
Global Fund is a funding mechanism that pools the world’s largest financial donations for the prevention, treatment, and care of the three diseases.
Giving that Nigeria has the highest burden of malaria, the world’s fourth-largest tuberculosis burden, and about two million people living with HIV, funding programmes to stem the tide of these grim indices became a central focus for Global Fund.
Since 2003, Global Fund has disbursed over $2 billion in Nigeria but the country is still dogged by disturbing health statistics partly because corrupt and incompetent officials undercut progress in health management, health experts say.
To understand why its investments are not translating to equivalent and much-expected results, the Global Fund set up the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
In its latest report published March 9, the OIG indicted Zenith Carex, a Nigerian firm, of inflating invoices for the distribution of health commodities to warehouses and health facilities across Nigeria, resulting in a $3 million overcharge between 2017 and 2019.
The revelation builds on previous yearly reports by the OIG accusing Nigerian companies and government agencies of abusing millions of dollars of the Global Fund aid.
Periodic performance Report
President Buhari on Thursday directed the health minister, Mr Ehanire, to set up an accountability framework for the utilisation of the $890 million grant which is the latest from Global Fund.
The president issued the directive at the virtual launch of the $890 million grant, according to a statement by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina.
”Let me also emphasise here that this administration has zero-tolerance for corruption and inefficient use of resources”, the president said.
”In this regard, I hereby direct the Minister of Health to set up an accountability framework, to monitor the use of this fund, and provide periodic performance reports to my office.”
According to the statement, Mr Buhari assured the donor agencies of judicious use of the grant and said the funding would complement investments in the health sector, “help curb new infections, and reduce HIV-AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria-related morbidity and mortality.”
”It is my wish that in the next three years, these three diseases are taken much further down the path of elimination,” he said.
The president also applauded the Global Fund for its contribution of $51 million during the early stages of Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), test kits, and scale-up diagnostic capacity.
Nigeria, Global Fund partnership
The president recounted that the strong partnership between Nigeria and Global Fund, dating back to 2002, had contributed immensely to saving lives, especially of women and children.
According to him, over the last two decades, joint efforts with the Global Fund, the United States Government, the United Nations and other Development Partners had succeeded in bringing about significant reduction in new infections, morbidity, and mortality from HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
He attributed the improvements to the effective alignment of our various national investments, using the most recent evidence to inform policies, strategies, and plans.
The Global Fund typically raises and spends funds during three-year “replenishment” fund-raising periods. To activate a grant from the Fund, countries are also required to make a counter-part contribution.
President Buhari at the event announced that he approved $12 million to the last Global Fund Replenishment held in Lyon, France, representing a 20 per cent increase on the country’s last contribution to Fund.
”I am pleased to say that, on our part, we are on track to fulfilling our co-financing commitments to the Global Fund for this new funding cycle and meeting our other commitments as and when due,” he said.
”Ladies and Gentlemen, our administration is committed to increasing domestic financing and exploring other innovative ways of increasing financing for health, to ensure Universal Health Coverage,” President Buhari said.
In her goodwill message, Kathleen FitzGibbon, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, described Nigeria’s recent contribution to the Global Fund as an important commitment to end all the three diseases and to ensure a healthy and prosperous country.
”We hope the achievements made in Nigeria in the fight against HIV, TB, and Malaria, with support from the Global Fund, will inspire and motivate health workers and other partners alike,” the representative of the U.S. government, which is the largest single donor to the Global Fund, said.
How $890 million grant will be spent
In his capacity as the Chair of the Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund programmes in Nigeria, Mr Ehanire gave a breakdown of how the new grant will be utilized.
He said Nigeria signed eight grants amounting to the $890 million to support HIV, TB, and Malaria programmes and build resilient and sustainable systems for health.
Out of the eight grants, the minister said two are for HIV management, amounting to $310 million, and will be administered by two principal recipients namely the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and Family Health International.
“According to the Minister, $180 million of the 310 million was earmarked for the procurement of antiretroviral medicines, which will maintain 1.4 million Nigerians living with HIV on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment,” the statement said.
The minister also explained that three of the grants, amounting to $153 million, are for TB, to be administered by three principal recipients including the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme, the Institute for Human Virology in Nigeria and the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
He also said two of the grants for malaria elimination, amounting to $439 million, will be administered by two principal recipients- the National Malaria Elimination Programme and the Catholic Relief Services while the eighth and final grant worth $35 million for Resilient System for Sustainable Health (RSSH) has NACA as principal recipient.
Speaking virtually from Geneva, Peter Sands, the Executive Director, Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria while commending the partnership with Nigeria, said in addition to the $890 million grant, the Global Fund has disbursed $2.6 billion to support HIV, TB and Malaria and strengthening of RSSH in Nigeria, since 2003.
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