By Laide Akinboade, Abuja
The European Union (EU) has announced a EUR 50 million (N21 billion) contribution towards the implementation of a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
In a statement issued by EU in Abuja, the new donation was announced in a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and is a reflection of the strong partnership, friendship and solidarity with Nigeria.
President Buhari emphasized that “Although the EU is facing significant challenges due to this pandemic, I am indeed touched and grateful that the European Union still had the vision and foresight to remember its friends, partners and allies across the world”.
According to the statement “The funding for Nigeria is aimed at ensuring optimum care for the confirmed cases of the virus, while containing further spread through an inclusive, national response.
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen stressed that “COVID-19 must be fought globally.
“The EU support is focused on the people most at risk. Africa and Nigeria are vital priorities, and must not be forgotten or left alone. Now more than ever we want to show solidarity with our partners.”
“The funding will be channeled through the One UN COVID-19 Basket Fund launched in concert with the Nigerian authorities during the week.
” The EU intervention will focus on the 10 key pillars of the National COVID-19 Response Plan, including coordination, socio-economic measures, such as cash transfers or food distribution to vulnerable groups, scaling up surveillance, testing, isolation, contact tracing, personal protection equipment for medical staff, disinfectants for medical facilities, risk communication, community engagement, clinical management of the critically unwell COVID-19 patients”.
As UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed stated on the occasion of the EU support: “The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a global health crisis, but it is a humanitarian and development emergency with a human face. While the pandemic tests our resilience, this is the time for genuine commitment to multilateralism and partnerships, that guarantee the necessary investments towards response and recovery.
” The EU’s solidarity at this momentous time will save lives. It will also ensure we protect the gains of the SDGs while safeguarding the livelihoods of the most vulnerable, especially women and girls” the statement read in part.
The European Union noted that its support will translate into improved delivery of key support to Nigerians, which could include the following:
Swift procurement of equipment and commodities required to respond to the outbreak, including those required for surveillance, prevention and control as well as clinical management (portable ventilators, surgical masks, examination gloves, protective googles, gowns, PCR test kits amongst others).
“Improved testing capacity for the National Center for Disease Control molecular Lab network – currently existing capacity of 1,500 tests per day nationally to be scaled up to 3,000 tests per day.
“Technical support provided to expand communication and community engagement to reach women, persons living with disabilities and marginalized groups, in order to address their unequal access to information on outbreaks and available services.
“Maintenance of essential health services to ensure that the vulnerable do not experience catastrophic health expenditures during this period.
“Cash transfers to mitigate impact of social distancing measures put in place.
“Decisions on fund allocation will be made in close consultation with national authorities leading the crisis response,” it stated.
Furthermore, the EU said, it will leverage on previous experiences including in supporting the multilateral action for Polio Eradication as well as ongoing regional support in deployment of SORMAS digital surveillance for contact tracing which worked very well during the Ebola outbreak of 2014.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen said the European Union was looking in particular at Africa to underline that Europe will not forget its sister continent when addressing this global pandemic.
“While as individuals we keep distance, as true partners the EU and Nigeria are coming together. To all Nigerians, I wish to remind all that you are not alone,” he said.