UN, government, governors, others move against coronavirus

The United Nations (UN) and Nigeria have launched a basket fund to complement ongoing efforts by the National COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Pandemic Response Plan, initiated by the Presidential Task Force on the virus.

Named One Framework, the UN in Nigeria, through the fund, had mobilised and deployed over $2 million for medical supplies to boost measures by the Federal Government to contain the pandemic.

The fund, which is serving as the ‘One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform’ for diverse stakeholders (UN and other multilaterals, bilaterals, private sector, foundations, philanthropists, among others), would channel financial support to ensure an efficient, effective and impactful response to the novel coronavirus.

Speaking at the launch in Abuja, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and representative of the global agency’s Secretary-General, Edward Kallon, explained that the National COVID-19 Response Plan was founded on 10 pillars, encompassing scaling up surveillance, testing, isolation, contact tracing, infection prevention and control (including protection of medical staff), case management of critically unwell patients, risk communication and community engagement, research and emergency preparedness, security and logistics for mass care, and coordination and resource mobilisation.

He implored others to invest in the project, adding that the “COVID-19 Basket Fund will be facilitated and implemented by the UN system in Nigeria through a Project Management Board comprising representatives of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Response, relevant government agencies, donors and the UN system.”

Kallon applauded the Nigerian government for urgently mobilising resources to address the impact of plague, pointing out that government could not do it all alone.

In his remarks, the Head of European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, submitted that major donors had welcomed the fund as a mechanism for urgent assistance.

Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, commended the Executive Director of Global Fund for exhibiting flexibility that had allowed the most populous black nation to request re-programming of existing grants to direly scale-up surveillance, diagnoses, infection control and other strategic measures to support the national response plan on the ailment.

In his contribution, the chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, harped on collaboration, adding that the Federal Government appreciates the role the UN was playing to rally partners to support the country’s efforts at fighting the deadly disease.

In the same vein, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) yesterday said it was working with the World Bank and MTN Nigeria to get support for the states in mitigation of the economic and social costs of the epidemic.

In a communiqué issued yesterday by the chairman and chief executive of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, at the end of its third COVID-19 teleconference meeting in Abuja, the forum listed ongoing plans to include accelerated disbursement of existing and new financing for states under the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results.

According to Fayemi, the moves also involve the mitigation and recovery support for expenditure to protect livelihoods, support of local economic activities as well as recovery over the next 18 months to two years.

The governors appreciated the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for supporting states in cash and kind to check the spread of the virus.

Fayemi went on: “Following a briefing from Mr. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on the activities of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 which he chairs, the Forum commended the SGF and his team for the commitment in leading a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Members also emphasized the necessity for stronger collaboration with states because they are best positioned to administer palliatives to mitigate the impact of the crisis, including the distribution of food and essential materials to households to help them cope with the expected loss of income and livelihoods.”

Disclosing that the forum received presentation from Mazen Mroue, Chief Operating Officer, and Olubayo Adekanmbi, Chief Transformation Officer, MTN Nigeria, on ongoing collaboration with the NGF secretariat to profile states’ vulnerability to the coronavirus based on parameters such as population, age and density, travel history, location and income level, he added that the “governors approved the vulnerability model and resolved to use the model to drive a data-driven approach to stopping the spread of the virus in the country.”

Besides, the Emergency Operation Centre to monitor the supply of essential commodities as part of proactive steps to further protect and promote the health and safety of industrial and related workers, families and the nation in the wake of the pandemic has been opened.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otumba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo, who made the announcement in Abuja, added that the facility is housed in his ministry.

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