News that millions of anti-malaria drugs (ACTs) donated to Nigeria by the Global Fund have been diverted is to say the least disheartening and should be condemned by all and sundry.
In a country where malaria still looms large, resulting in rising deaths among newborns, pregnant women and other vulnerable members of the society, efforts to stem the scourge like the donation by the Global Fund should be commended and supported by all especially health workers whose responsibilities include the distribution of such drugs.
This sadly has not been the case, as some of the Health workers in government owned health facilities and agencies in connivance with others in the privately owned health facilities and yh larger society had resorted to diversion of these essential drugs.
Recall that the Director Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Evelyln Ngige, at the 62nd National Council of Health Meeting in Asaba recently lamented that while the Global Fund financed the procurement and distribution of 16,290,250 ACTs to health facilities in the 13 states in 2018, only 8,189,226 malaria cases (presumed and confirmed) were reported as treated with ACTs across the 13 states for the same year.
“These numbers highlight an apparent discrepancy between the service and consumption; this is of serious concern not only for the Federal Ministry of Health but also for our donors, the Global Fund.
“Having implemented the grant thus far and following examination of grant report for 2018; it became clear that not all malaria commodities distributed to health facilities in the states could be accounted for particularly ACT,’’ she said.
She said in some places some of these commodities have been found in private pharmaceutical companies, some were on the street even though they are labelled `not for sale’.
We condemn the diversion of these essential drugs and insist that no effot be spared in uncovering those behind this unfortunate practice. How these these commodities that were officially delivered to the states found their way to private vendors should be unearthed by the Federal Ministry of Health in conjunction with law enforcement agencies.
In this regard we commend the decision of the Federal Ministry of Health to engage law enforcement agencies against parties whose actions or inactions led to diversion of anti-malaria drugs (ACT) supplied to Nigeria by Global Fund. This is a step in the right direction and should be supported by all and sundry.
We also urge state governments to investigate the diversion of the anti-malaria drugs donated by the Global Fund with a view to identify health workers in their employment whose action or inaction led to the observed discrepancies between the ACTs distributed to health facilities and reported number of malaria cases treated. Such persons should be sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others.
Uncovering the brains behind the diversion of the anti-malaria drugs donated to the country by the Global Fund and prosecuting them will save Nigeria’s face among the comity of nations.
Health workers should realise that the hope of survival of countless newborns, pregnant women and other vulnerable persons in the country depend on these anti-malaria drugs and in this wise ensure that supports like the one by Global Fund and other international agencies are utilised the way they are meant.