By Victoria Ojeme
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) through the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) has handed over essential medical equipments to the government of Nigeria as part of the regional response strategy to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event which took place on the 11th of July in Abuja, Nigeria, flags off the series of hand overs which will cover the entire region and boost the collective effort aimed at managing and curtailing the spread of the deadly virus.
With the active support of the German government through its Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the development agency-Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and well as bank- Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), the collaborative effort delivered 12,800 goggles, 294,000 small, medium and large gloves, 23,220 small, medium and large gowns, 8,190 coverall and 1,600 face shields.
Other items also delivered were 12, 000 masks, 10,000 surgical masks, 5,000 sanitizers, 40,512 diagnostic test kits and two each of ventilators and ventilator trolleys.
Pledging firm commitment of the regional community to the fight against Covid-19, the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou expressed the appreciation of ECOWAS to all the partners in the fight against COVID-19, which has enabled a measure of progress to be made.
President Brou particularly thanked the President of Nigeria and regional champion on COVID-19 Muhammadu Buhari for the leadership and support provided including logistics back up to aid the distribution of the items to other ECOWAS Member States.
He enthused that the materials donated will go a long way in the fight against COVID-19 bearing in mind the sustenance of the collective and coordinated regional efforts in ensuring that the health and wellbeing of West African citizens are guaranteed.
In his welcome address, the Director-General of WAHO Professor Stanley Okolo stated that the handover of the critical medical equipment is part of the larger efforts at flattening the COVID-19 curve.
He noted further that as the collaboration of partners for a common goal is yielding desired fruits, it has become even more imperative for the populations to get into the habit of behavioral change adjustments.
Also speaking, the coordinator, GIZ-ECOWAS cluster and representative of the German government Mr. Ludwig Kirchner lauded the GIZ-WAHO partnership on infectious diseases which started in 2016.
He maintained that the mobilisation of finances and technical assistance in the face of cooperation in the area of equipment procurement, will be of benefit to the ECOWAS region, seeing that the cases of COVID-19 in the area had risen to 90,000.
In his remarks, Nigeria’s minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire maintained that the public health institutions of the Nigerian Ministry of Health, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as well as the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 were set up to lead the whole of government response strategy and determine non-pharmaceutical measures to ensure the safety of citizens.
He stressed that the country’s health workers who are toiling assiduously to treat COVID-19 patients, provide emergency care, while not losing sight of routine and essential health services needed the support and encouragement of all.
The Director-General of the Nigerian NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, the coordinator of the Presidential Task Force for Nigeria Dr. Sani Aliyu as well as the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Secretary to the Government of Nigeria Mr. Olusegun Adekunle all corroborated Minister Ehanire in calling for concerted efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
Besides the funders of the medical donation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is also collaborating with WAHO in the area of procurement.