BY SUNNY A. DAVID
The Anambra State House of Assembly Committee on Health has demanded an informed clarification on a 30 million naira Covid19 medication funds as well as other allocations contained in the budget of the State 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.
The Chairman of the State Assembly Committee on Health and member representing Aguata one 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 Covid19 pandemic, noting that there were little or no sensitisation on Covid19 in the hinterlands.
Another grey area in the budget the Chairman pinpointed was the over 26 million naira 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 the receipts of the Covid19 medications bought for the treatment and management of Covid19 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 State 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 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, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Vincent Ogochukwu Okpala said drugs have been procured for the management of Covid19 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 Covid19 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 .
Commissioner Okpala affirmed that the war on Covid19 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 Covid19 testing centre in the State.