COVID-19: ECOWAS, WAHO donate $8m medical equipment to Nigeria

WorldStage Newsonline– The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 took delivery of two ventilators and other critical medical equipment donated by ECOWAS and the West African Health Organisation, to support Nigeria’s fight against coronavirus.

The medical equipment worth 8 million dollars was handed over to the PTF on COVID-19 on Saturday at the Premier Medical Warehouse, Abuja.

Receiving the items, Mr Boss Mustapha, PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said that partnership is needed, being the only option with which the world could overcome the pandemic.

Mustapha was represented at the event by Mr Olusegun Adekunle, Permanent Secretary, General Services Office (GSO), Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF).

He said that the pandemic had been devastating not just in the African continent but also at the global level.

The SGF urged ECOWAS member states to recommit themselves to the fight against COVID-19, to safe the region.

According to him, the response to the disease is an ongoing process that requires a rapid and flexible response that should be based on listening, verification and commitment.

Mustapha stated that the pandemic was not over and the region could not let up on their commitment to one another.

He cited three major reasons the virus had continued to spread around:

“They are my colleagues, so, I can speak without the mask.

“They are my close friends, so, I can speak without the mask.

“They are my relations, so, I can speak without the mask. Don’t make the above three mistakes… save yourself and others,” he advised.

Mustapha, however, commended ECOWAS/WAHO for the donations, noting that some of the items were scarce commodities being chased after by some other countries in desperate need of them.

“We acknowledge that the donations are useful. The items are being chased globally, even if you have the resources, you might not get them.

“The donation is gratifying because hundreds of medical personnel have been infected perhaps due to lack of kits. It will be used judiciously and it will be accounted for. 

“We received these items with thanks,” he noted.

Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the donations were critical supplies in the COVID-19 response strategy.

“I wish to convey the appreciation of His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and of the people of Nigeria to ECOWAS and WAHO for this brotherly gesture.

“We also appreciate 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,” he said. 

Ehanire said that it was a great indication of confidence and Nigeria would play the role in providing support to the fellow member states in the ECOWAS subregion to fight the pandemic, of which President Buhari was recently designated Champion of the COVID-19 response.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), 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 noted.

Earlier, Prof. Stanley Okoro, Director-General, WAHO, said that the organisation had established a regional distribution hub during the pandemic, working with the agency, the ECOWAS Regional Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control (ECOWAS- RCSDC).

Okoro noted that the current consignment was procured with funds from the German Government (BMZ through GIZ) and the German Development Bank (KFW) and supplemented by funds from ECOWAS Commission and WAHO.

He challenged every citizen of West Africa to make a pact with 10 of their friends or family to practise scrupulous personal hygiene and responsible social distancing, to never be out in public without a face mask and to encourage each other to keep the pact during the pandemic.

“You will be amazed at how quickly this pandemic will go down in your community,” he said.

The medical consumables donated were two ventilators and two ventilator trolleys, 40, 512 diagnostic test kits, 5,000 locally made sanitiser and 10, 000 surgical masks.

Others were 12, 000 N95 masks, 10, 000 surgical masks, 1, 600 face shields, 294, 000 gloves, 12, 800 googles, 8,190 overalls and  23, 220 gowns.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 infection a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, WAHO had worked tirelessly to support the region and protect the populations.

The body had coordinated communication and collaboration between member states and between the region and partners.

WAHO had supported individual member states with critical medical supplies, diagnostic test kits, online training to build capacity, public health advisory and targeted funding for specific activities, to help flatten the curve of this pandemic.

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