Nigeria mobilised over $95m to combat COVID-19 pandemic, Fayemi tells Chatham House

• Expects 80m vaccines doses in 2021 for 40% of population, 60m vaccines doses in 2022

Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Governor Kayode Fayemi, of Ekiti State, on Tuesday, disclosed that over $95 million has so far been mobilised to combat the scourge of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Governor Fayemi disclosed this during a virtual presentation on: ‘The role of Nigeria’s State Governments in recovery: Responses to COVID-19 linked challenges’ at Chatham House Event, London, UK.

According to him, “On the health front, about $20 million was made available to support the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) at the outset to scale its capacity to adequately respond to emerging issues.

In the same vein, over $75 million was mobilised through the private sector in Nigeria otherwise known as Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), which was launched in March 2020 to support the Government’s control efforts.

According to him, the CACOVID “provided medical supplies and equipment, tests, isolation and treatment centres for individuals with COVID-19. In addition, under its food relief program, essential food materials were donated to vulnerable persons across all States to cushion the effect of the lockdown.”

He added that “States also followed suit, responding to the pandemic by addressing the health and economic impact. In Ekiti for instance, COVID-19 Task Force was established as early as March 2020 and prior to the detection of the first case in our State. Eminent citizens of the State under the Rapid Response Mobilisation Committee (RRMC) have helped raise about $3 million and deployed same to fund some of the critical infrastructural and social needs to support the State’s fight against the pandemic.

“As a State government, recognising the impact of the shocks created by the pandemic on our revenues, in 2020, we revised our budget mid-year with capital expenditure for a number of budget lines re-prioritised to enable us to channel resources to health and socio-welfare for the vulnerable. Remunerations for top government functionaries were also reduced by 50 per cent.

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“In my capacity as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, we quickly developed communications and collaboration plan for all State Governors. We recognised early on that no state is Nigeria is safe until every state is safe.

“We have met regularly with the NCDC since the beginning of the pandemic, we set up internal committees within the Forum to ensure engagement across various sectors of the response. Our voices as State Governors is very important, especially when thinking about social challenges like stigma and vaccine hesitancy.

“We have continued to participate in risk communications activities, to address these challenges and more. We have put out regular press statements, and in our states, funded grassroots risk communications and community mobilisation.”

In the bid to ensure availability of the vaccines, he disclosed that the subnational governments are “working with the Federal Government to ensure we have vaccines available in the country. Just last week, the NGF invited experts to brief Governors on vaccine procurement and administration. We had a National Economic Council (NEC) meeting, where the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) shared the plans around vaccines procurement.

“We expect about 80 million doses of vaccines would be available in 2021 to cover 40 per cent of the population, while another 60 million doses are being planned for 2022. Beyond government’s procurement of vaccines, we at the NGF are also strong proponents of the utilisation of public-private partnerships in vaccines procurement as a means of closing the gap between what is available and what is necessary to achieve herd immunity.”

According to him, the country has also developed a critical component of risk communications activities through the development of information education communication (IEC) materials based on the evolving situation and social media chatter.

“Materials were developed at the national level and adapted by states, to local needs and languages.

“We are also on the offensive with respect to ensuring people comply with the safety protocols in place. Only last week, Mr President signed the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations, which provided guidance on gatherings, operations in public places, mandatory compliance with treatment protocols, penalties and enforcement.

“When Nigeria reported its first case in late February 2020, only four laboratories in the country could test for COVID-19. By October 2020, testing capacity had expanded to over 70 laboratories across the 36+1 states. The scale-up of laboratory services was important given the size of the country and the need to rapidly obtain results for suspected cases.

“As at December 2020, more than 45,000 health workers have been trained across the country on infection prevention and control measures.

“These preventive actions are important given that a major priority in the country’s response is to break the chain of transmission individually and collectively through adherence to public health and social measures.

“Our treatment approach includes adequate care and management of positive cases. For persons with asymptomatic or mild symptoms, self-isolation and home-based care are approved if such persons have completed a risk assessment by the State Ministry of Health and meet all requirements.

“In the instance where hospital care is required, isolation centres across the country are now equipped to handle critical cases. Each State now has at least one isolation centre, with states like Ekiti, having up to three,” the NGF Chairman stated.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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