The Ebola funds approved by the federal government last August, to curtail the spreads of the dreaded Ebola virus disease, which was believed would be distributed among the states and the FCT, has turned a different story as facts emerging from documents give contrary breakdown.
The N1.9 billion, approved by the federal government for the disease control, as emerging facts show, was used by the Federal Ministry of Health for the procurement of vehicles, isolation tents, secretariat and logistics support, and psychological support, among other things.
It was also discovered from the health ministry sources that not all the states got the materials supposedly procured for the containment of the Ebola virus.
Shortly after Patrick Sawyer delivered the disease in the country, the Nigerian government did not waste any time as it declared a national emergency for the control and containment of the virus in Nigeria, and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan approved the immediate release of N1.9 billion for the implementation of a Special Intervention Plan to face it out, which the country did.
These included the establishment of additional isolation centres, case management, contact tracking, deployment of additional personnel, screening at borders and procurement of required items and facilities.
Two weeks after the announcement, controversies arose over the disbursement of the funds when the Lagos State Government stated plainly, that it had been utilizing its own resources and had not received a dime from the federal government.
In response to this, the federal government released N200 million to the Lagos State Government, while Rivers State, which battled to contain the Ebola disease when it got to the state by an ECOWAS official, also got the same amount.
But contrary to how it was believed to be used, emerging document detailing the breakdown of how the N1.9 billion was utilized by the health ministry, showed that areas like research in virology and genomics got very little funds while money was allocated more than once to coordination, logistics and surveillance activities.
The document has it that a whooping sum of – N900 million – was used for the procurement of isolation tents which were supposed to have been distributed to the 36 states and FCT; N315,315,000 was meant for the purchase of vehicles; medical and diagnostic supplies logistics and technologies gulped N182 million; while research for virology/genomics got just N30 million.
Other areas to which the funds were allocated included: active surveillance – N29 million; infection control – N11.5 million; planning, coordination and collaboration – N93.5 million; again, coordination – N13 million; outbreak investigation – N25 million; routine surveillance – N10 million; and case management – N30,156,000.
In addition, for the purpose of safe patient transfer, the health ministry set aside N10 million; laboratory surveillance got N5 million; accelerated completion of the Gadua Centre Reference Laboratory in Abuja got N180 million; and the complete upgrade of the eight zonal NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control) laboratories got N65 million.
Other areas were logistics support for response (DTA, accommodation, etc) – N15 million; psychological support – N2 million; secretariat and logistics – N3.7 million; and sensitization and public awareness campaign on EVD – N72,377,500. So it was!