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Coalescing To Cripple   Covid 19 In Nigeria 

By Abdulwarees Solanke

As the international community rallies efforts to combat the Covid 19 pandemic, the question that should border us in Nigeria is on our coping capacity for containing the plague that is threatening the entire humanity.

On Wednesday when President Muhammadu addressed the nation, he explained that te Federal Government provided an initial intervention of fifteen billion Naira (N15bn) to support the national response as Nigeria fight to contain and control the spread, adding that the government recruited hundreds of ad-hoc staff to man call centres and support tracing and testing efforts in Lagos and Abuja, among other comprehensive measures announced including total lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Earlier in the week, The Nigerian Muslim community similarly announced that it is mobilizing extensively to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the country and provide relief for the victims. Under the aegis of Muslim Coalition against Covid-19, over 40 Islamic organizations are pulling resources together to make impactful contributions to the nation’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic.

The Executive Chairman of Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC, and Disu Kamor said MPAC initiated the idea of a nationwide coalition as a common front for Nigerian Muslims to organize and focus their efforts in a coordinated and integrated form.

The unfolding of the Muslim community initiative came on the heels of a similar one by the organized private sector in Nigeria. Announcing the OPS intervention, the Central Bank governor odwin Emefiele explained the background of their collective effort:

The Central Bank of Nigeria, on behalf of the Bankers’ Committee and in partnership with the private sector led by Aliko Dangote Foundation and Access Bank have come together to form the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19.

This Coalition was created out of the urgent need to combat the unfolding COVID-19 crisis in Nigeria. The rate at which the virus is spreading is unprecedented and it appears we are fighting our most lethal adversary to date. So far, the Federal Government has made giant strides in the fight but it is clear that the private sector needs to step in and support efforts already being made.

With the OPS intervention, the billions have being rolling in from the corporate giants and drivers of the nation’s economy to support the Federal government initiatives to overcome the pandemic.

In my discourse today, I am surveying global efforts to contain the plague, sourcing statements and releases from the United Nations and its various humanitarian and development organs, to benchmark our coping capacity in the battle against Covid 19 in the country.

The first:  To confront the unprecedented worldwide challenge posed by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, top UN officials for instance on Wednesday last week, launched a massive humanitarian appeal to mitigate its impact, particularly on fragile countries with weak health systems.

At a joint virtual press briefing, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcock, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, launched a $2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan, to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries in a bid to protect the millions most at risk.

Similarly, The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is pledging support for those suffering from invisible impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including women and girls whose access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health care may be disrupted.

In a statement on Friday, Executive Director of the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, Natalia Kanem, said the Fund’s work is ramping up even as the novel coronavirus continues to test health care systems around the world.

As we continue responding to the #coronavirus outbreak, @UNFPA is calling for renewed action to provide life-saving sexual and reproductive health for the world’s most vulnerable.

Yesterday, the Senior Humanitarian Advisor to the UN Special Envoy to Syria warned that the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic having a devastating impact on war-torn Syria is intensifying, where six million are displaced, living in conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to the deadly virus,

“The current situation is new and unlike any we have dealt with in Syria for the last nine years.  All Syrians – and all those who provide (humanitarian) assistance – are at risk,” Nejat Rochdi told the International Syria Support Group Humanitarian Task Force, headquartered in Geneva, which met via video-teleconference.

She urged members of the Group – which brings together the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and several Member States – to do all they can to ensure that help reaches Syrians across the country as soon as possible.

At the country level in the Asia Pacific, the United Nations is stepping up various efforts to contain the spread of Covid 19 in the region.

For instance in Fiji: UNICEF provided tents to be used as fever clinics to treat patients wile in Micronesia, it Implemented community hand washing campaign and is working with partners to build 100 handwashing stations as part of a hygiene promotion campaign.

In Solomon Islands: UNICEF Distributed Water, Sanitation and Health dignity kits and developing training for Social Welfare officers on managing stress and self-care during the pandemic just as in Vanuatu where it provided tents to treat patients and training, for community awareness outreach.

In Kiribati, UNICEF as Developed SMS platform for COVID-19 text messaging, installed handwashing facilities at two hospitals and launched a community campaign on proper hand washing.

On Wednesday, the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)  warned  that Given how quickly the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading, an outbreak is “looking imminent” in the world’s refugee camps, crowded reception centres or detention facilities where migrant families are sheltering.

According to UNCR the Boko Haram insurgency has displaced nearly 2.4 million people in the Lake Chad Basin. Now the refugee crisis is in its seventh year and as UNCR observed last year, the Lake Chad Basin region is grappling with a complex humanitarian emergency.

The agency is alarmed that Over 3.3 million people have been displaced, including over 2.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in north-eastern Nigeria, over 550,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad and Niger and 240,000 refugees in the four countries.

The UNCR explained that refugee crisis has been exacerbated by conflict-induced food insecurity and severe malnutrition, which have risen to critical levels in all four countries. Despite the efforts of Governments and humanitarian aid in 2019, some 3.5 million people remain food insecure in the Lake Chad Basin region and will depend on assistance.

It reasoned that the challenges of protecting the displaced are compounded by the deteriorating security situation as well as socio-economic fragility, with communities in the Sahel region facing chronic poverty, a harsh climatic conditions, recurrent epidemics, poor infrastructure and limited access to basic services.

From Cote DIvoire comes tis alarm:  Food insecurity levels in the Sahel region are “spiralling out of control”, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday, as it expressed concerns about the potential impact on humanitarian supply chains because of restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the Central Sahel in Africa – encompassing Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – more than five million people face severe food insecurity ahead of the coming lean season, according to data released by WFP and other humanitarian partners. The number of food-insecure people in #Burkina Faso is expected to triple in the next lean season. And with #COVID19 reaching Central Sahel, Burkina Faso has seen the largest number of deaths anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fortunately, in Nigeria, one can say we are perfectly in control of the situation with the myriad of efforts at the state and national levels. From Sokoto in the Northwest to Rivers in the South – South and from Borno in theNorth East to the South West particularly Laos State accounting for majority of reported cases, the emerging story is of Unity of purpose, sacrifice, care, concern and caution we are showing from all fronts.

 Kudos to all in our country as we combine efforts to cripple Covid 19. We will win Inshaa Allah.

 

Abdulwarees, an assistant director, Strategic Planning & Corporate Development at Voice of Nigeria is of the publicity committee of te Muslim Coalition Against  Covid 19

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