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Anambra legislators query Health Ministry on COVID-19 medication funds, others

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ANAMBRA State House of Assembly Committee on Health has demanded for an informed clarification on a N30 million COVID-9 medication funds as well as other allocations contained in the budget of the state’s Ministry of Health.

  The committee sought the clarifications during its oversight meeting with a delegation from the Ministry of Health led by the commissioner, Dr Vincent Ogochukwu Okpala.

  Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Health and Member, representing Aguata 1 State Constituency, Dr Cater Dike Nnamdi Umeh sought for concrete evidences on how monies with sub-heads in the budget were utilised.

  He pointed out that huge sums of money was allocated to education and sensitisation of the citizenry especially those in the grassroots on the existence and dire consequences of the coronavirus infections but frowned at the inability of the Ministry of Health to deploy the funds for aggressive enlightenment campaigns on the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that there were little or no sensitisation on COVID-19 in the hinterlands.

  Another grey area in the budget the chairman pinpointed was the over N26 million earmarked for the procurement of information and communications technology ( ICT ) equipment.

Although the commissioner said the release for the purchase of ICT facilities and some other releases have not been effected, the chairman of the committee and members expressed surprise at the body language of the commissioner and his staff.

  When the committee demanded for receipts of the COVID-19 medications bought for the treatment and management of COVID-19 patients, the delegation said they didn’t come with 2020 documents that they only came with 2019 documents to the meeting.

  The Health Committee Chairman who hailed intervention funds in the budget meant to assist the citizenry access quality healthcare, mandated the Ministry of Health to furnish the committee with all relevant documents on expenditures as it relates to allocations in the ministry’s budget, stressing that that the committee will pay an oversight visit to Enugwu-Ugwu General Hospital and some other hospitals where the Ministry of Health claimed it has ongoing capital projects.

  Responding to the committee’s observations, Commissioner for Health, Vincent Okpala said drugs have been procured for the management of COVID-19 cases and that more medications will also be purchased due to the rising cases of the novel coronavirus infections in the state.

  Dr Okpala while speaking with newsmen shortly after the meeting with the Health Committee said that the interaction with the committee was in order because it was a constitutional mandate that the lawmakers should carry out their oversight duties.

  He said the committee looked at the capital projects of the Ministry of Health as well as expressed concern and support with the way war is being waged against the COVID-19 pandemic.

  The commissioner explained that members of the committee were not dissatisfied with the presentation they made rather they needed to be directed where there was budgetary provisions or not.

  Okpala affirmed that the war on COVID-19 in Anambra State is going on well and that the state government is firing from all cylinders.

  According to him, “right now, we are responding to the signs and symptoms we see in the communities. So His Excellency has directed that we actually have a testing centre and we have gone very far in making sure that we get a COVID-19  testing centre in the state.

  “So hopefully by the end of next week, we shall get a testing centre in Anambra State. We have 66 confirmed COVID-19 cases and about 21 active cases.” The commissioner informed.

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