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Nigeria Gets Fresh $195m World Bank Loan To Tackle Malaria, Others

Source: burningpot.com
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By Mathias Okwe, Folasade Folarin (Abuja) and Chukwuma Muanya (Lagos)

The Federal Government yesterday got a fresh credit line of $100 million from the World Bank to combat malaria in Nigeria, which the World Bank Country Director, Onno Ruhl yesterday claimed claims a life of a child every minute in Nigeria.

The World Bank also committed $95 million to the Lagos Eko Secondary Education Project, bringing to $2.31 billion its credit line to Nigeria, which pushed up the country's total foreign debt portfolio to $3.6 billion, according to the Finance Minister, Mansur Muhtar, at the new credit signing event yesterday.

The additional malaria control fund is to cover seven states namely: Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano and Rivers. The $100 million is to be disbursed to the affected states within the three-year life span of the project.

It is under the bank's International Development Association (IDA) concessionary credit portfolio, which attracts only a yearly commitment charge of 0.50 per cent payable on the undisbursed amount and a service charge of 0.75 per cent yearly payable on amount withdrawn.

Muhtar yesterday said the Federal Government would apply the same terms and rate to the seven participating states in the subsidiary agreements to be signed with them.

Nigeria had May 15, 2007 signed an initial IDA loan worth $180 million for the anti-malaria project, which has a closing date of March 31, 2012

Speaking at the event, Minister of Health, Babatunde Osotimehin, declared that an integrated approach was being introduced by the Malaria Control Booster Project Team with a forecast of 80 per cent drop in morbidity rate and 50 per cent in mortality rate.

He confirmed that mosquito bed nets supplied free under the project to state governments were being diverted and sold.

He appealed for understanding, saying measures were under way to make the nets more readily available to kill off the black market for them.

A staff of the Malaria Control Booster Project confided in The Guardian that the nets supplied to Kano State had found their way back to Abuja where they are being hawked on the streets and in traffic for N2,000.

The $95 million Lagos Eko Secondary Education Project is meant for the promotion of school effectiveness, quality assurance and strengthening the state's post-basic education.

Ruhl said since the project was part of the World Bank's human development project, it was ready to extend the facility to other states willing to access it for the development of their youths.

Osotimehin said: "When we started the AIDS treatment in Nigeria, there were cases of people stealing the drugs to sell on the open market, but when we flooded the country with the drugs and we were administering it for free to HIV/AIDS patients, the black market was completely wiped out.

"In the same manner, we are distributing 60 million nets in the country free of charge and this will be coming along with free treatment for children and other measures with which the integrated war on malaria will be fought."

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