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Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria, unclear still ― UN

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Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria, unclear still ― UN
Edward Kallon

As FG launches One COVID-19 Basket Fund

By Omeiza Ajayi

The United Nations, UN, has expressed concerns about the effect and true magnitude of the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, saying it is yet unclear, and therefore the quality of response to the disease must match the scale of the crisis.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon disclosed this Monday in Abuja during the launch of the Nigeria/UN COVID-19 Basket Fund.

He said; “This is a trying moment for all of us as our shared humanity is under threat of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Societies around the globe are in turmoil and economies are in a nose-dive. It is still unclear what the true magnitude of the spread and impact of the virus will look like in Nigeria. The available emerging evidence is however clear, the only effective response to the COVID-19 Pandemic is testing, isolation and contact tracing.

“From preliminary macro and micro social-economic analysis, the COVID 19 Pandemic is expected to place immense pressure on Nigeria’s healthcare system and will result in a serious economic and fiscal pressure with a risk of a negative social impact if proactive measures are not taken to prevent, prepare, respond and cushion the economic impact of the Pandemic.

“The International Monetary Fund has reassessed the global prospect for growth for 2020 and 2021, declaring that we have entered a recession – as bad as or worse than in 2009. We must respond decisively, innovatively and together to suppress the spread of the virus and address the socio-economic devastation that COVID-19 is causing in our world today.

“The magnitude of the response must match the scale of the crisis — large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive, with the country and international responses being guided by the World Health Organization. And it must be multilateral, with countries showing solidarity to the most vulnerable communities and nations.

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“The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy. Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building resilience, ensuring equal access to social services through systems strengthening, in particular, health systems strengthening, and investments in building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face,” Kallon added.

Launching the “One COVID-19 Basket Fund for Nigeria”, Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha described it as a monumental joint initiative that signals the togetherness that humanity desires at all times.

According to him, the “basket fund” which will serve as the only ‘Financing and Investment Platform’, through which different multisectoral stakeholders can channel their financial contributions to the multisectoral efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Response.

The Nigeria/UN COVID-19 Basket Fund will also enhance coordination, technical and financial support to the Presidential Task Force to prevent, prepare and respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

He said; “On 23rd March 2020, the national COVID-19 leadership of Nigeria met with the UN leadership and key bilateral donors to discuss the unfolding emergency. Both parties agreed to adopt the ‘Four Ones’ guiding principles of engagement for national authorities and partners to respond to the pandemic:

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“One agreed National COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Pandemic Response Plan; One COVID-19 National Coordinating Authority with a broad-based multi-sector mandate; One COVID-19 M&E System for tracking and reporting progress; and One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform.

“I am happy to state that the COVID-19 Basket Fund has been designed to serve as the One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform, through which the different stakeholders (including UN, other multilateral and bilateral donors, as well as private sector donors, foundations and philanthropists) can channel their financial contributions to the multisectoral efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Response.

“The One COVID-19 Basket Fund is robust and is 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 will also fund socioeconomic measures, such as cash transfers or food distribution to vulnerable groups.

“The Government of Nigeria appreciates the role the UN is playing to rally partners to support our nation’s efforts to fight the pandemic, and the operationalization of the one COVID-19 Basket fund will be of great help in complementing Government’s efforts to coordinate mobilization and rapid deployment of assistance where it is needed the most”, Mustapha added.

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