Nigeria: Coronavirus, Lassa Fever - House Seeks Procurement Power for Ministry of Health

27 February 2020

Abuja — Worried about the shortage of protective equipment at the Ministry of Health to contain threats of coronavirus and Lassa fever, the House of Representatives has urged the federal government to restore the procurement powers of the ministry with immediate effect.

This resolution follows the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance titled: 'Serious Impediments in the Concerted and Rapid Response Efforts by the Federal Government to Contain and Deal with the Grievous Threats of Lassa Fever and Coronavirus and Other Related Matters', which was jointly sponsored by Shehu Balarabe Kakale, Tanko Sonunu and Babatunde Adejare.

Presenting the motion, Kakale noted that the inability of the ministry to procure equipment such as protective personnel gadgets, laboratory and logistical equipment/services, reagents and drugs is seriously hampering the efforts of the federal government to tight and contain the coronavirus and Lassa fever epidemics.

He expressed concerns that even basic protective equipment like face masks, thermal scanners and gloves are rapidly depleted and going out of stock in the ministry.

The lawmaker lamented that the federal government decision to transfer procurement powers from health ministry to the Ministry of Agriculture has seriously caused inefficiency, delays and corrupt practices in the system putting millions of Nigerian lives and the economy in grievous danger.

According to him, "We are concerned that all procurement issues of one mandated ministry are going to another ministry, and in this case, agriculture, which means an outright violation of the Procurement Act, and therefore illegal."

"We also note that the federal government has proactively provided or released huge sums of money amounting to about N386million for this massive effort."

Adopting the motion, the House resolved to investigate the Federal Ministries of Agriculture, Finance and Health on the reasons for their violation of the Procurement Act.

The House also directed the Ministry of Agriculture to concentrate on its mandate of zoonotic disease control, animal, public health and veterinary services among others, in the all-important collaborative effort with relevant MDAs to contain these highly infectious and other diseases.

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