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COVID-19: DON’T GIVE BUHARI, APC ANOTHER $3.4BN LOAN, ACTIVIST CAUTIONS IMF, OTHERS

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… Urges private individuals to donate directly to Nigerians

A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Comrade Timi Frank, has cautioned the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international organisations to be wary of plan to grant another loan to the current General Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in the name of Covid-19.

The Nigerian government is asking for $3.4billion loan to fight COVID-19.

Frank said IMF must ask the current regime how previous loans taken from China and several other sources were used.

The former APC spokesman who said if the loan is approved, would be the largest in the continent, however, warned that the international organisations should not mortgage the future of unborn Nigerians.

The political activist in a statement made available to newsmen on Monday said that inspite all the loans taken in the last five years of General Buhari administration, “Nigeria is still referred to as the poverty capital of the world.”

Frank said: “The APC government has negatively given another name to governance in Nigeria and it is now government of loan. The IMF must demand to see the roads, the healthcare facilities and all manners of infrastructure previous loans were used for.”

The Bayelsa-born activist said if such huge amount of money is given to the current regime it will be mismanaged.

“I hereby advise the IMF and other organisations to be cautious not to facilitate corruption in Nigeria. The proposed $3.4billion loan given to Nigeria to fight COVID-19 is questionable. General Buhari’s government has collected several loans from China & World Bank, but it doesn’t reflect amongst Nigerians.

“The purpose of the loans over the years are not been carried out. Buhari is corrupt, they will end up sharing the money among themselves and give Nigerians contrived stories. The loan will not be used to tackle COVID-19. They will build no hospitals, or buy any medical equipment,” Frank warned.

The activist said virus such as corruption, hunger, poverty, nepotism, and wickedness kill Nigerians daily more than COVID-19.

Frank called on wealthy Nigerians to donate directly to the citizens instead of donating to the federal government.

“I hereby appeal to the private sector and businessmen to quit donating relief funds to the Nigerian government, instead they should donate directly to Nigerians through their BVN; so this money can get to Nigerians directly, instead of giving the money to this corrupt government.”

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Health

Health Ministry Debunks Reports of ‘Instant Aid Grants’

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. . . Denies ‘general recruitment’ reports

By Elizabeth Okwe

The Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has debunked media reports that it was distributing instant aids grants of fifteen thousand naira (N15,000) to members of the public.

would like to address recent misleading online media  publication claiming that the Ministry is distributing instant relief funds of Fifteen thousand Naira (N15,000) to the public.

The Ministry has also clarified that it was not in the process of recruiting general staff for the hospitals under its supervision, noting that the only positions advertised recently were for Chief Medical Directors and Directors of Administration for some tertiary health institutions.

The clarifications were contained in a press statement by Patricia Deworitshe, the Ministry’s Director information on Saturday.

The statement: “Please be advised that the information regarding the distribution of relief funds is not originating from the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.”

Relatively, the Ministry also wishes inform the general public that the Ministry is not currently in the process of recruiting general staff for the hospitals.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Ministry placed an advertisement in the Daily Trust and Punch Newspapers of 18th April, 2024, for the recruitment of Chief Medical Directors and Directors of Administration in some of the Federal Tertiary Hospitals only.

“The public is to note that general recruitment exercises are not by the Federal Ministry of Health as they fall under the purview of the Federal Civil Service Commission.”

The statement warned the public to be wary of unscrupulous elements in the society engaged in fraudulent activities.

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Health

Finally, FG Bans Sachet Alcoholic Drinks

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By Elizabeth Okwe

The National Agency for Food Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has banned alcoholic beverages produced in sachets less than 200ml.

The agency said the five-year window given to the manufacturers of the products to stop producing the drinks in sachets and pet bottles which began in 2018 elapsed on January 31, 2024.

She said enforcement of the ban commenced on February 1, 2024.

Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, while addressing the media over the development in Abuja on Monday, said the ban was not a sudden development but a result of a multilateral Committee that agreed that the ban would be in phases whereby production would be reduced by 50 percent by 2020 while outright ban would be on January 31, 2024.

Given that decision, the DG said NAFDAC did not issue renewal licenses exceeding January 2024 to any manufacturer of the products.

According to her, the agency took the route of wiping out the drinks in such sachets because of the negative effects on underage children.

She said because the drinks come in pocket-friendly sizes, accessible and affordable, children easily fell for the packages only to face the consequences in the future.

“This decision was based on the recommendation of a high-powered committee of the Federal Ministry of Health and NAFDAC on one hand, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), and the Industry represented by the Association of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN), in December 2018.

“As a commitment to the decision reached at the end of this Committee meeting, producers of alcohol in sachets and small volume agreed to reduce the production by 5 percent with effect from 31st January 2022 while ensuring the product is completely phased out in the country by 31st January 2024”.

According to her, the future of the country supersedes other considerations in the enforcement of the policy.

Noting that saving Nigerian children and protecting the health of the larger society is paramount, Adeyeye said: “The people who are mostly at risk of the negative effect of consumption of the banned pack sizes of alcoholic beverages are the under-aged and commercial vehicle drivers and riders.

“To curb the menace of abuse of alcohol, the World Health Organization recommended some actions and strategies to Policy-Makers that have shown to be effective and cost-effective, which include: regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages (in particular to younger people) and regulating and restricting the availability of alcohol.”

She said in the course of enforcing the ban it was discovered that some manufacturers were still in production of the banned products and still had stacks of both finished products and packaging materials of the products in their possession.

“This situation is of course not acceptable, and the Agency views this as flagrant disobedience to the laws of Nigeria,” she noted.

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Health

Fed Govt to Increase Primary Health Centres from 8,300 to 17,600

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The Federal Government has said it will work with state governments and development partners to increase the number of primary healthcare centres from 8,300 to 17,600 nationwide in the next four years.

The initiative will be complemented with the training of 120,000 Frontline Health Workers who are expected to enter the Health sector soon as part of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Coordinating Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate, broke the news in his keynote address at a two-day meeting of Northeast Forum of Health Commissioners, which started yesterday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

Pate, who was represented by the Executive Director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Muyi Aina, listed the three-pronged strategic approach adopted by the agency.

These, the minister said, include institutional strengthening and effective coordination of all primary healthcare services, efficient, equitable, quality and trust worthy services.

He said there would be a strong collaboration with all stakeholders towards achieving frontline health security and routinised basic health care services among others.

Pate stressed the need for collective interventions of Federal, state, and development partners to be more people-centred and well-coordinated to achieve the overall sustainable goals.

The Northeast, like many other parts of Nigeria, the minister regretted, still has unacceptably poor health induces which he said calls for a strong collaboration rather than fragmentation of efforts at the national and subnational levels.

Pate said: “The Nigerian Health Sector Renewal Investment Programme, which encapsulates our strategic vision for the sector, was geared towards cohesive common goal to save lives, reduce both physical and financial pains, and produce health for all Nigerians.”

Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum urged the World Health Organisations (WHO) to fulfill its promises to the state and prioritise enhanced TB reduction and management, provide DNA machines for gender-based violence management, build hospitals in Biu and Munguno local government areas.

Zulum stressed that “these promises were not mere expression of goodwill; they represented the lifelines for our people, for mothers delivering children, for victims of unimaginable violence, for the entire communities struggling against diseases”

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