Seek extension of testing, advocacy, palliatives, others to low-income communities
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Civil Societies Organisations, CSO, in Nigeria have urged, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration in Lagos State to extend Coronavirus, COVID-19 testing and advocacy to low-income communities, with clear protocols on reporting and responding to suspected cases in the drive towards combating further spread of the ravaging disease.
The organisations, however, commended the efforts of the Governor and his team so far to curtail and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 across the state.
In a statement, dated April 6, 2020, and signed on behalf of CSO, Mr Deji Akinpelu, Coordinator, Rethinking Cities, also acknowledged the efforts of the state government to provide palliatives for the elderly and vulnerable, especially those whose
livelihoods have been disrupted by market closure and travel restrictions.
The statement read in part: “We note that the urban poor is the most vulnerable in this period of global health pandemic and economic uncertainty. Constant displacements over the past decades have increased overcrowding in many low -income areas, making all the palliative measures even more necessary.
“We salute the efforts of all individual and corporate entities supporting the efforts of Lagos state government in these challenging times and we gratefully acknowledge the solidarity of international donors and development organisations.
“We further appeal to them and to Lagos state government: That COVID-19 testing and advocacy be extended to low-income communities, with clear protocols on reporting and responding to suspected cases outlined, bearing in mind that these communities are densely populated
“That special intervention in primary and secondary health care services are given priority, as well as separating suspected COVID-19 cases from local communities to avoid a spiralling infection in the densely populated areas and for treating them safely.
“We also observed with concern that the current palliative measures are not achieving their desired effect, in that distribution is limited, thus propelling protest and violence in many low-income communities.
“We, therefore, request the Lagos state government to consider the following propositions to achieve inclusive and sustainable Covid19 palliative care for the vulnerable: That the state government allows individuals, corporate and faith-based organisations with proven engagement in local communities to lead with the distribution of material support to these communities
“That the state government should consider a time-limited financial support package to duly registered small-scale trade and market cooperatives, which will be disbursed through individual BVN accounts. International Development Assistance can be used to offset the costs of such payments
“That a mixed strategy of cash transfer in-kind support is considered for the women in need, especially for the unbanked.
“Due to the fact that Lagos relies on food distribution networks from other parts of Nigeria and beyond, that the operative food distribution chains be kept open –with transporters and local retailers allowed to move around responsibly – during the lockdown period.
“These food distributors and market women are rendering essential services. We especially recommend that the Neighbourhood Corps and local market associations support the enforcement of social distancing protocols for both buyers and sellers in these markets. Situations like these call for price control measures that will ensure price stability.”
The organisations, also requested that the Mile 12 traders’ association normalise prices and keep them constant, suggesting that, “A subsidy mechanism in which government pays the difference to traders if they have to sell below the cost price can be established for this period.
“That access to free water and handwashing stations is ensured in all crowded communities
“That special arrangement be made to provide temporary accommodation and feeding for the homeless in order to guarantee the requirements for social distancing and isolation for this very vulnerable layer of the population.”
The organization is made up of Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria (FIWON), Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE Nigeria), Lagos Urban Development Initiative, among others.