Saturday, June 24, 2017

NHIS, NPHCDA: Labour to petition EFCC over ‘corruption’ in health ministry

Professor Isaac Adewole, Nigeria's Health Minister

They unions alleged that the chief executives of NHIS and NPHCDA 'must have been acting in collusion with the health minister.'

Labour leaders in the agencies under the ministry of health have disclosed plans to petition the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over alleged corruption.

The agencies include the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).

The decision was sequel to a resolution by the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services to either suspend the NHIS and amend the act setting up the scheme.

Speaking in Abuja, chairman of the committee, Chike Okafor said the scheme have become a ‘conduit pipe’ for corrupt individuals.

"What was conceived to make healthcare affordable and accessible to workers has been transformed to a conduit pipe by some persons and organizations to enrich individuals and organizations,” Okafor said.

They alleged that the chief executives must have been acting in collusion with the Minister.

Reacting to the allegation, the director of press in the ministry of health, Aboade Akinola, feigns ignorance of the development, but requested time to get clarifications.   

“I am not aware of such, so I need to get a brief from my Principal. I will talk to the relevant officers and let you have my findings. As soon as the Hon Minister returns, I will brief him also,”  she said

When contacted, the NPHCDA public relations, Saidu Salahu, describes the allegation as false and unfounded.

He said, the new executive director was repositioning the organization in line with the mandate given to him by the President, for efficiency and meeting the needs of Nigerians.

“The story is unfounded, the ED only upgraded zonal coordinators of the agency to zonal directors and three directors were moved out of the headquarters to head three of the six zones in the country.

“It is only upgrade that happened and the movement does not affect seniority in NPHCDA and not a demotion as alleged by your source,” the spokesman said.

He added that the development at the Agency does not contravened the public service rules.

Efforts to get officials of NHIS to speak on the matter proved abortive, as officials were unwilling to speak to the press on the matter.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Jean-Claude Juncker: EU states slammed for lack of support to Africa fund

EU leaders established the $2 billion trust fund in 2015, to tackle the root causes of mass migration from Africa to Europe

EU countries have fallen far short of their duty to an African economic development fund designed to help discourage mass migration to Europe, Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker charged Friday.

EU countries have fallen far short of their duty to an African economic development fund designed to help discourage mass migration to Europe, Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker charged Friday.

Juncker reprimanded EU member states at a summit in Brussels for having pledged only 200 million euros of the 1.8 billion euros ($2 billion) they are expected to contribute to the trust fund launched in 2015.

"Member states are not delivering at a sufficient degree when it comes to pledges and commitments to the African Trust Fund," Juncker told a press conference ending the summit of 28 leaders.

"This is not acceptable and I urge colleagues to do more," Juncker said.

During a summit with their African counterparts in Malta in November 2015, EU leaders agreed to set up a trust fund underpinned by 1.8 billion euros from the common EU budget.

Member states are supposed to match that amount, but since then they have only pledged 200 million euros and disbursed just 89 million euros, according to commission figures.

The Commission increased its share to 2.6 billion euros in the interim to make up part of the shortfall.

The fund is meant to help finance development projects and so ease the poverty driving migrants to Europe, which faces the biggest migration crisis since World War II.

Juncker has also lashed member states for failing to live up to their obligation to admit their share of asylum seekers, who have overwhelmed Greece and Italy since 2015.

The two-year plan is to relocate 160,000 Syrians and others fleeing war and persecution by September. Until now, only around 20,000 have been relocated to other member states.

The European Commission, executive of the 28-nation EU, earlier this month launched legal action against Hungary and Poland for refusing to take any asylum seekers and against the Czech Republic for effectively dropping out of the plan.

The move starts a long process that could result in fines.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lassa fever: Ondo Govt mobilises residents against disease

Lassa Fever

The permanent secretary affirmed the determination of the state government to fight the scourge to a standstill.

The Ondo State Government on Thursday called on residents to improve on their personal and environmental hygiene to prevent further spread of Lassa fever.

The Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Health, Dr Taiye Oni, made the call in a statement made available to newsmen on in Akure.

“Following the outbreak of Lassa fever in Owo and Akoko Southwest Local Government Areas, the Ondo State Government is ready to nip it in the bud and the residents should not entertain fear."

“We appeal to residents not to panic but to intensify personal and environmental hygiene, wash hands regularly, get rid of rats and all rodents."

“Avoid overcrowding and avoid mixing with people with symptoms, avoid self-medication when there is fever and headache, and body fluid from dead people."

“The epidemic which seems to have become a reoccurring decimal annually in some part of the state during the dry season, seems to have changed its pattern by deciding to break during the raining season and in Akoko where it has never occurred before,’’ he said.

The permanent secretary affirmed the determination of the state government to fight the scourge to a standstill.

Oni added that the state was collaborating with the Specialist Hospital, Irua, Edo, and Federal Medical Centre Owo, among others. to tackle the outbreak.

According to him, the state government has intensified public awareness campaign, trying to make the Infectious Disease Annex of the State Specialist Hospital, Akure, functional and its public health laboratory for quick laboratory result.

He said that health workers in the state had been sensitised and were combat-ready, saying that the reported cases had been isolated and put under surveillance.

Oni, therefore, called on the Federal Government to come to the aid of the state to prevent spread of the haemorrhagic fever.

Dogara: Over 100 million Nigerians 'cannot afford to pay hospital bills'

Speaker Yakubu Dogara

The Speaker lamented on the state of the country's health care, calling for major reform.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has revealed that over a 100 million Nigerians cannot afford to treat malaria in public hospitals.

The Speaker lamented on the state of the country's health care, calling for major reform.

He was represented by the Deputy Minority Leader, Mr Chukwuka Onyema, on Wednesday in Abuja at an investigative hearing on health care services, organised by House of Representatives Committee on Health Care Services.

Dogara was worried that poor Nigerians are the victims of this problem, saying, "Poor families, who constitute over 67 percent of our population, (well in excess of 100 million Nigerians), cannot afford to pay hospital bills even for treatment of malaria in public health facilities, nor for routine ante-natal services.

"Regrettably, there is no mechanism to protect vulnerable families from the catastrophic effects of the exorbitant cost of healthcare services in Nigeria.

"If we must achieve desired outcomes and changes, there is a compelling need to expand the coverage levels of NHIS, currently estimated to be about 4-5 percent of Nigerians, mostly in the formal sector.

"A scenario where even this abysmally low coverage is attributable to those in paid employment and other types of formal sector creates suspicion of lack of creativity and innovation on the part of key actors in the health insurance industry in Nigeria, especially HMOs."

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has been rocked with allegations of mismanagement of N351 billion.