Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Nigeria and the United Nations system in the country on Monday launched a joint system initiative to support COVID-19 response.
Under the Delivering as One framework, the UN in Nigeria, through the Basket Fund, has already mobilised and deployed over $2 million from the UN system for the procurement of essential medical supplies that will boost the efforts of the Nigerian Government in containing COVID-19 and caring for those confirmed cases in need of serious medical attention.
The One COVID-19 Basket Fund, according to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman, Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, is robust and capable of rapid procurement of equipment and consumables as well supporting socio-economic interventions of vulnerable groups, as well as efforts aimed at scaling up surveillance, testing, isolation, contact tracing, personal protection equipment for medical staff, disinfectants for medical facilities, risk communication, community engagement and clinical management of the critically ill.
The Basket Fund, he added, will also fund socioeconomic measures, such as cash transfers or food distribution to vulnerable groups.
Mustapha expressed Nigeria’s appreciation for the role the UN is playing to rally partners to support the nation’s efforts to fight the pandemic, and the operationalization of the One COVID-19 Basket fund, adding that it will be of great help in complementing Government’s efforts to coordinate mobilization and rapid deployment of assistance where it is needed the most.
He also expressed the government’s appreciation to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for commending Nigeria’s response to the pandemic and assure that this will spur the country to work harder.
“We have the will, the people, the tools and now we have the financing structure,” he said.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, described the intervention as a great relief. He expressed happiness that the first $2 million promised for commodities on 23 March 2020, when the national COVID-19 leadership of Nigeria met with the UN leadership and key bilateral donors to discuss the unfolding emergency, will start rolling in on Tuesday, April 7th.
He said working together, all parties have the best chance of defeating the pandemic.
The minister further commended the partners that in spite of the same problem in their home countries, they still have the heart to assist Nigeria.
Ehanire also commended the global fund for the latitude granted Nigeria to reprogrammed some of her funding request in other to be able to address COVID-19 outbreak.
He noted that the road ahead is going to be rough and so the country will need all the help she can get including bringing aggregate experience to bare in Nigeria.
European Union Delegation to Nigerians and the ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlen, notes that as individuals, “we do need to keep distance, but as a community, we need to come together.”
“At this time of need, Nigeria is not alone, the European Union is committing to supporting the Government of Nigeria in addressing the challenges of the pandemic. The COVID-19 Basket Fund avails us with the opportunity to cooperate and act rapidly in the deployment of assistance that can help enhance the healthcare services and cushion the most vulnerable,” Karlsen noted.
The #COVID19 Basket Fund avails us with the opportunity to cooperate & act rapidly in the deployment of assistance that can help enhance the healthcare services and cushion the most vulnerable,” Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS. pic.twitter.com/3qALK3idts
— UNDP Nigeria (@UNDPNigeria) April 6, 2020
United Nations Resident Coordinator and Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, applauded the Nigerian government at all levels for its efforts and measures to urgently mobilize resources to address the impact of COVID-19.
He added: “But the Government cannot do it alone. For the country to succeed in fighting back the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, we must all come together across all sectors to support the government at this time of great need.”
Both parties had on the March 23rd meeting agreed to adopt the “Four Ones” guiding principles of engagement for national authorities and partners to respond to the pandemic:
(i) One agreed National COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Pandemic Response Plan;
(ii) One COVID-19 National Coordinating Authority with a broad-based multi-sector mandate;
(iii) One COVID-19 M&E System for tracking and reporting progress; and
(iv) One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform.
@UN_Nigeria and Gov't of Nigeria have just launched the Nigeria/@UN #COVID19 Basket Fund to complement resource mobilisation in support of National COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Response Plan. I am proud of @UN_Nigeria team for getting this off the ground. @AminaJMohammed@UN_Piper pic.twitter.com/e2sXAIeBFj
— Edward Kallon (@EdwardKallon) April 6, 2020
Dr Sani Aliyu, National Coordinator of PTF, said the only way to deal with the pandemic is to have one harmonized single approach, one system, one fund, one authority and one response and that basket initiative is one step towards achieving that.
He noted that the pandemic caught the world by surprise, disrupted social systems, placed a significant strain on health institutions globally and for systems that are already weak like developing countries like Nigeria, there’s worry about the impact this will have.
He said the partners have demonstrated that they are true friends in the time of need.