CoronaVirus: Health Ministry’s Preparations Suffers set back

The Federal Ministry of Health’s inability to procure equipment and equip laboratories is affecting Nigeria’s preparation for a possible Coronavirus epidemic, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.

This is despite the release of N386m by the Federal Government to scale up preparation to tackle the disease.
The Presidency through the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, had in October 2018 stripped the ministry of its powers to procure anything and transferred the authority to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The PUNCH had reported that the development was caused by a power play between
the then Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, and Kyari.

Eight months after Adewole’s exit, however, Kyari it was learnt, had failed to reverse the directive.

A top official at the health ministry said attempts to get the President’s chief of staff to reverse the situation had not yielded any positive results.

The official said both the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, had met with Kyari over the issue but there had been no progress yet.

He said the situation had slowed down preparations for prevention of Coronavirus, a disease which has killed more than 1,800 people and infected over 73,000 people worldwide.

The official, who is also a doctor, said items like nose masks, chemicals and equipment were being procured through the agric ministry

He said, “We can’t easily get consumables like personal protective equipment, including nose masks. “We need to improve our capacity for quarantine and surveillance and monitor those coming (to Nigeria) especially where we have a basis for suspicion. Logistics cost more money. We need to set up more labs, we need reagents. There is no way the suspension of our procurement powers will not affect our capacity. “Even when we have money, we cannot activate procurement because we have been stripped of our powers of procurement.”

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