A non-profit organization, Plan International Nigeria has called on the federal government to fashion out an inclusive and strategy in its approach to combat the raging Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in the country.
While declaring a red alert on the desease, the organization expressed gladness that Nigeria had committed to working with governments at all levels, pledging to commit parts of it’s resources to tasks aimed at tackling the spread of the virus.
In a policy statement issued on the pandemic issued by the organisation entitled “COVID-19, it expressed the need for an inclusive ‘People-Centric’ Approach,” calling for decentralisation of testing centres to all the states of the federation as well as giving accreditation to diagnostic centres and private hospitals that have the capacity to be involved in testing.
The organisation’s country dirrector, Dr Hussaini Abdu in a statement introducing the policy brief addressed at government and relevant non-state actor appreciated the renewed commitment by the federal and state governments and encouraging private sector interest in tackling the COVID-19 challenge through the imposition of movement restrictions and social distancing.
Abdu urged that in the face of stringent response by the government to the pandemic, it was critical that all containment and mitigation policies, systems and actions pay adequate attention to concerns of the poor, voiceless and vulnerable, especially women and adolescent girls.
He said: ”Central to this response is the protection of the rights of people, especially children, adolescent girls, IDPs, migrant communities, minorities, the poor and vulnerable to their rights to life and dignity.
“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is now tracing over 6,000 individuals who may have been exposed to the more than 130 confirmed cases so far. The country now has a huge task of combating a deadly disease with an extreme tracking difficulty,” he added.
He particularly called for the protection of children, girls and women who often are more at risk in emergency situations. “It is important to recognise that violence against women and girls (including intimate partner violence) tends to increase during emergencies.
“The COVID-19 response must therefore provide mechanisms to ensure adequately resourced, accessible and context sensitive essential services to address gender-based violence (GBV). This can be done in collaboration and support from NGOs who have capacity and experience in GBV response,” Abdu said.
He emphasised the need for development partners, who have been major contributors to the health sector over the years, to reprogram existing funding to support the COVID-19 response adding, “The development and humanitarian community must rise to the occasion to support communities with public health information and emergency relief, especially for the poor and the vulnerable.
“These corporate bodies and individuals should also consider extending their support through non-governmental organisations and other civil society groups who have direct access and links to the vulnerable communities to avoid the bureaucracy and possible abuses associated with government-led actions.
“The lock-down in cities and major informal market centres will further compound the condition of these groups. It is therefore important for the government to invest and support the livelihoods of the poor and the vulnerable groups, ” the country director said.