GAVI has resumed its funding of Nigerian primary health care programmes.

GAVI Resumes Financing Of Nigerian Health Projects

Through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative (GAVI), has resumed its direct financing of primary health care programmes in Nigeria.

GAVI, an international organisation, had stopped funding programmes through the NPHCDA following unsatisfactory findings from its programme audit in 2015.

Speaking at an event to celebrate the return of GAVI in Abuja on Thursday, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the recommencement of direct funding is a testimony to the renewed confidence in the country’s financial management system especially on the part of the current NPHCDA management.

Mr Ehanire said the improved financial management system in NPHCDA aligns with the current government’s zero tolerance for financial mismanagement practices and anti-corruption stance.

He said the direct programme funding will lead to major advantages of streamlining of the approval process to save time, cost savings and system strengthening in financial management.

He said it is expected that GAVI and Nigeria’s other partners will continue to provide technical support to enable the country maximise the gains of the process transitions.

“I wish to extend the federal government’s appreciation to GAVI for this renewed confidence in the leadership of Nigeria’s health sector. The Government will on its part continue to preserve the confidence through the accountability policies put in place to enable greater transparency and closer grant monitoring and management,” he said.

He said the Nigerian government will continue to do all it takes not only to sustain GAVI’s confidence but to actualise the collective dream of health for all.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, said at the inception of this administration, the agency started with four strategic objectives, which he noted are aimed at achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Mr Shuaib said the strategic objectives were changing the NPHCDA narrative about accountability and transparency in the management of resources, achieving polio eradication; strengthening the routine immunisation (RI) system; and revitalisation of PHC in Nigeria.

He said today’s event is a celebration of the achievement of the first objective.

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He said: ”It is worthy of being celebrated because when this administration came in, the agency was at its lowest ebb, as far as accountability and transparency in operations was concerned.

“We started out having to handle an issue involving misuse of donor funds, which led to the new administration having to compel staff to refund funds that were disbursed for state-level activities, for which there was no acceptable evidence of those activities having been carried out.”

Mr Shuaib said the spectre of misused Gavi funds still hung over the agency, leading to Gavi’s stoppage of direct funds disbursement to NPHCDA for programme implementation.

He said funds had to be disbursed through development partners for activities approved for NPHCDA to implement.

“This hurt the system, and apart from the fact that part of the funds went for payment of Procurement Service Charges (PSC), there were avoidable delays in the approval processes of our development partners for utilisation of the funds,” he said.

He said to ensure accountability, the agency also created the office of an advisor to the ED on accountability and transparency in the utilisation of financing.

He said Gavi has graciously taken over the responsibility for paying the remuneration of the officer in this position, which he described as a welcome development “as it goes a long way towards ensuring independence for this office.”

In his remarks, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said the return of the direct financing symbolises the unwavering commitment of the Nigerian government to combat corruption thereby providing a stable framework for governance.

Mr Mustapha said one of the government’s main objectives has been to change the narrative surrounding accountability in the management of resources within all Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

He said the government also recognises the importance of the Primary Health Care system towards the attainment of UHC.

He noted that significant investments have been made to ensure they are equipped to provide continuous and high-quality healthcare services.

“This government has shown a strong and unyielding resolve to tackling corruption in all sectors of society, implementing measures to recover stolen funds and assets, strengthen anti-corruption institutions, and enforce accountability among public officials.”