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…As Reps Query Health Ministry Over Neglect of Oral Health Agency
By Tordue Salem, Abuja
National Blood Transfusion Services, Dr Omale Amedu, told the House of Representatives yesterday, that his agency requires the sum of N1.7 billion to stay afloat.
Dr Amedu made his request on Tuesday, at a 2023-2024 budget session before the House Committee on Health Services.
He said the money would be used to equip its 17 Centres across the country.
According to the National Coordinator, each of Centres requires at least N100 million explaining that each of the Centres needs at least four vehicles for maximum operation.
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“We need those vehicles to go round and sensitise people on the need to donate blood, people are not always willing to donate blood so we have to really go round to convince them to do so.
“The organization need money to operate, we don’t generate money like other agencies, that is why we are asking the Parliament to approve this 2023-2024 budget proposal considering the importance of blood to every human being*, he said.
Speaking further, National Coordinator expressed worry that out of N200 million it proposed in 2019, only N130 million was released adding however that the organization generated the sum of N61 million as Internally Generated Revenue within the period.
Responding, Acting Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Health Services, Rep. Samuel Adejare acknowledged the importance of blood in hiuman life but urgent management of the agency to improve on its Internally Generated Revenue
Besides, the Committee on Health Services, also lamented the underfunding of the Regional Centre for Oral Health Research and Training Initiatives for Africa. (RCORTI).
Rep. Adejare Babatunde, Deputy Chairman of the Committee, who stood in for the Chairman, Tanko Sununu, said the federal government was handling the issue of the RCORTI which was established in collaboration with the World Health Organisation to serve the 46 collaborating WHO/AFRO member countries with levity.
Adejare was offended that “while many African countries were desirous of having the centre in their country, Nigeria was starving the agency of needed funds and support”.
Earlier, the Director-General/CEO of the Centre, Dr Balarabe Sanni had told the lawmakers that the Centre which is beset by lack of funds and personnel, is being hampered from achieving its core mandates.
“What I had the intention of saying here, I won’t say it again. I will leave it. But since candidly speaking, if we cannot put what is needed to put in that agency to make it what it’s supposed to be, let another country take it up from us. That is the sincere thing about it.
” That is my own opinion about it. It hurts me to say this, but if we’re not ready to, a lot of countries vied to have this agency in their countries, but since they have given us, have we shown enough commitment to say that we really want it?
“That’s what I’m saying. We have to understand that there are commitments agreed to and as a country, if we’re going to be taken seriously by the international agencies and partners, we need to really go right with all the agreements we have signed. That’s my point here. “, Sanni said.
Sanni had earlier, told committee members while presenting the performance report on 2020 budget and 2023-2024 budget proposal, that the Centre, which is a full-fledged parastatal of the Ministry of Health is one out of the six global centres in the world to be established and the only one in Africa,
The DG/CEO in one of his presentations said the Centre’s training and clinical staffs had attended a total number of 64 different conferences/workshops/seminars in various parts of the world.
“30 academic papers were presented by Representatives of the centre at various Conferences/Workshops/Seminars locally and internationally. 90 abstracts were submitted in local and international W.H.O AFRO Members countries.
He said N88, 320, 411.04 was budgeted for Capital in 2020 and N68, 380,689.04 was released between January to September, leaving a balance of N19, 939,722.00.
On the other hand, N431, 904, 748.00 was proposed for the year 2023-2024
Also, according to him, the Overhead for 2020 was N12, 823, 375.00 with N6,114,310.62 releases as between January to September 2020 and the balance of N6,709, 064.38 outstanding, and N12, 823,375. Proposed for 2023-2024.
On the other hand Personnel (IPPIS) for 2020 was N827, 713, 098.00 with N177, 359, 140.59 released with an outstanding of N650, 353, 957.41, and N252, 997, 021.00 proposed for 2023-2024.”
However, members were quick to point out some inconsistencies in the organisation’s budget presentations for 2023-2024. A member Adedeji Olajide (PDP Oyo), challenged Sanni on the low internally generated revenue of the Centre, saying that as the DG/CEO of the organisation, he should be working to make it higher.
But Sanni said that originally, the law setting the centre up did not factor in profitability, as it was meant as a social service platform. Similarly, on why the staggering sums for the development of infrastructure at the permanent site in Jos, Plateau State, he said that was the template give the agency by the ministry.
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