A member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, Mr. Abiodun Akinlade, has said delay in release of budgeted subventions to health and research institutions will frustrate health care development in the country.
Akinlade said this when the House Committee on Science and Technology visited the Nigerian Natural Medical Development Agency and other Federal Government-owned medical facilities in Lagos State on the performance of the 2012 budget in the country.
He lamented that infrastructure and equipment in research institutions could not be upgraded and new ones could not be purchased due to lack of funds in the outgoing financial year.
Akinlade said, “The last time we were at NNMDA, we discovered a number of obsolete equipment, likewise other institutions that we inspected. We discovered that funds that were budgeted for facilities upgrade and infrastructure were delayed and in some cases they were not released till this year. Some projects are also going to be carried over till 2013 due to non-release of funds.
“To ensure that these institutions are not handicapped in carrying out their duties in 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan and his team must see to the urgent release of funds if we want the budget to impact positively on Nigerians and move research forward in the health sector.”
Akinlade blamed the slow release of funds budgeted for in 2012 for the poor research and scientific progress that was recorded in the year.
He warned that failure to adequately fund these medical research agencies would increase the influx of fake, substandard and counterfeit drugs into the country.
Akinlade stated that improved funding of research findings carried out by the agencies would drive local production of drugs that could adequately combat diseases such as malaria.
Corroborating his view, the Director-General, NNMDA, Mr. Tamuno Okujagu, said poor funding and lack of support from government were factors militating against the development of natural or traditional medicine in the country.
Okugaju noted that government must ensure sufficient and timely release of funds to the agency to enable it to execute projects and researches that could improve the quality of traditional medicine.
According to him, only 35 per cent of what was budgeted in 2012 for the agency have been released, a situation that could affect the performance of the agency.
Okugaju, “If only 35 per cent of our budget was released how do we meet demands? Health affects everybody and the earlier we realise it, the better for the country.”
“We need equipment and even a land in Abuja to have our products showcased. We want to increase our production capacity.”
Okujagu called on government to provide funds that would assist the agency in building a world-class boost laboratory and ultimately boost production of drugs.