Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government yesterday took delivery of critical medical equipment from Economic Community of West African States/West African Health Organisation (ECOWAS/WAHO) to help Nigeria’s COVID-19 response.
The equipment worth $8 million, including two ventilators, some made in Nigeria like hand sanitizers, facemasks and face shields, were handed over to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 at Premier Medical Warehouse, Jabi.
Receiving the items, the Chairman of the PTF and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, said that partnership works, adding that it was only through partnership the world could overcome the pandemic.
Mustapha, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary General Services Office (GSO), Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF), Mr Olusegun Adekunle, said that the pandemic has been devastating not just on the African Continent, but also globally.
The SGF urged the member states to recommit themselves to the fight against COVID-19 to make the region safe.
He said that the response to COVID-19 is an ongoing process that requires rapid and flexible responses that should be based on listening, verification and commitment.
Mustapha stated that the pandemic was not over and the region could not afford to let up on its commitment to help.
The Director General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO), Prof Stanley Okolo, said that all the goods handed over were procured with the grant provided by German government through the German Development Bank (KFW), BMZ, German International Development Office and the GIZ.
He noted that the Coronavirus is going to be around for sometime hence the need for citizens to get into the habit of modifying their behaviours.
Also, Ludwig Kitchener, GIZ-ECOWAS Cluster Coordinator and Representative of the German Government, noted that the ECOWAS region as at July 10, had recorded 90,000 cases.
While commending remarkable efforts to contend the spread of the virus in the country, he noted that the items donated are crucial for the fight of the pandemic.
He assured of continued support from the German government and GIZ.
President of ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kasi Brou, in his remark, said that the critical equipment would help Nigeria fight the pandemic.
He said the commission has been coordinating support between member states and partners, adding that the equipment donated are combination from the GIZ, ECOWAS and WAHO.
Brou noted that some of the items were procured locally as a way of supporting local industries.
He recalled that the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government at its extraordinary session via video conference on April 23, where it discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sub-region, appointed Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari as the champion of the organisation’s COVID-19 response coordination.
He said already, Buhari has provided facilities and logistics support to ECOWAS, which include a warehouse for storing all procurement of medical commodities and planes for distribution of the items to the region.
Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire, said that the choice of Abuja by ECOWAS and WAHO as the central hub for receipt and distribution of regional supplies of medical products and equipment for the fight against COVID-19 is an indication of confidence reposed in the country.
In his remarks, the Director General, Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the biggest standout difference in the response to COVID-19 in the country and the 2014 Ebola outbreak was increased collaboration across West African health institutions as demonstrated by the support received from ECOWAS and WAHO.
“We’re grateful for the medical supplies received and offer our commitment to account for each and every one of them as we respond to this outbreak,” he stated.
PTF coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, said the pandemic requires global solidarity if they want to get out of it.
He described the pandemic as a unique one that doesn’t respect borders and individuals, adding that 700 Nigerians have been lost to the virus, while half a million have been lost globally.