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AFRO-NETS> Family Health International (FHI) Plans 20 VCT Centres for Nigeria (2)

  • Subject: AFRO-NETS> Family Health International (FHI) Plans 20 VCT Centres for Nigeria (2)
  • From: Peter Burgess <Profitinafrica@aol.com>
  • Date: Thu, 15 May 2003 03:13:38 -0400 (EDT)

Family Health International (FHI) Plans 20 VCT Centres for Nigeria (2)

Dear AFRO-NETS colleagues

I am pleased to hear that FHI plans to expand the number of VCT cen-
ters being supported in Nigeria from 2 to 20. But I would very much
like to understand better the financial and economic context of this
"good news".

As I understand it, FHI is one of the big users of USAID funds. I am
not privy to the amount, but I believe it is quite large.

And I do not know how the money is allocated to different countries,
and different programs, and different functions within the FHI or-
ganization and within the programs.

But having some idea of how much money is flowing INTO FHI, and how
big the problems in Nigeria and Africa are with respect to health and
HIV-AIDS, I was a little surprised to learn about ONLY 2 VCT centers
being supported in Nigeria (the idea that there will be more in the
future is good) but my question is where is all the money going and
only 2 have been set up so far.

The sad fact is that organizations like USAID measure their perform-
ance by how much money they disburse.... and I understand that they
have disbursed a lot of money to FHI.

And FHI to be in good standing with USAID must produce all the sorts
of things that look good in USAID's files, such as accounting reports
about money used, and reports about visits to sites and studies about
how the sites are doing. My guess is that the best document in
USAID's collection is the proposal about how the money is going to be
spent with all sorts of glowing justifications. And I guess that an-
other good document is going to be a study, a monitoring and evalua-
tion study of how valuable the work being done is.

But for me there is something missing..... actually rather a lot

There are 120 million people (more or less in Nigeria). There is a
rich economy (petroleum and the leadership) and a poor economy
(health, education, agriculture and the people). There must be some
pretty well thought out plans and priorities by African medical pro-
fessionals about what are Nigeria's priorities for improving health
sector performance.........

I see the challenge is to get incremental funds to fit into what is
going on in the country in the best possible way. So how do the USAID
program and the FHI program fit into the best plans for the Nigerian
health sector? This is not just the "government" plan, it is a plan
for health by the health professionals including both government and
private interventions.

So while I am delighted to learn that FHI is going to go from 2 to 20
VCT centers..... I have to wonder about how this became a priority
and what other things are being done with the available moneys.

Please do not read this as a negative posting. I am anxious that lim-
ited available funds are used for VERY good purposes, and that the
success of good work can be highlighted and use to justify more fund-
ing for more good work. But in order for this to happen, there has to
be critical assessment of funds that do not get used effectively.
There ought to be a way of seeing all this information easily on the
Internet... the plans... the resource mobilization... the resource
use... and the benefits realized.

One day....... hopefully in the not too distant future.


Peter Burgess
ATCnet in New York
Tel: +1-212-772-6918
Fax: +1-707-371-7805
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