Centre says FG’s N500bn COVID-19 intervention fund responsive

A Pan -African centre of excellence in health innovation, African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI), has described the approval of N500 billion COVID -19 Crisis Intervention Fund by President Muhammadu Buhari as responsive and commendable.

Prof. Wellington Oyibo, Head, ANDI, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos that the approval was a step in the right direction.

NAN reports that the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had in a statement on Fiscal Stimulus Measures, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the fund was proposed to be utilised to upgrade healthcare facilities.

She also said it would be used to support states in improving healthcare facilities, among others tbings.

Oyibo said: “This is expected, but the question is: What kind of upgrade are we talking about? In what areas? Is it in the area of equipment, training or remuneration? All of these have to be properly defined.

” If upgrade will mean equipment, then we have to look at the capacity building and operational framework that include equipment repairs/maintenance and utilisation,” he said.

He advised that a strategy should be put in place to prioritise what would be needed and at what scope, after a need assessment and appropriate stakeholder engagement would have been done.

He suggested that construction of a containment facility should meet all the technical specifications.

According to him, this construction must be carried out in cities with international airports and borders

“Beyond these, there is the infrastructure that is needed for health. This has to be unpacked nicely because only then can we tell if this fund is adequate or not,” he said.

Oyibo also urged that health upgrade must be nationalistic by supporting in-country platforms to develop research and development platforms where innovation could be helpful.

He added that development of technologies with energy-efficient and easy-to-use devices/equipment would ensure accessible services that could be provided.

On insurance, support and compensation for frontline healthcare workers during and after the pandemic, Oyibo commended the government for efforts.

He said: “However, permit me to add that, when the needful comes last, it does not help with the required motivation.

“We understand the deontological aspect of the work in terms of commitment to humanity.

“The high risk in providing care without protective materials and the expectations on what should be done is not balanced.

“Remember that fatality that occurs while providing national services are not appreciated or rewarded. Going forward, a more holistic approach is recommended,” he said.

He called for further strengthening of the capacity of the frontline staff so that the country could benefit from their experiences in the future.

He suggested that they should be kept together as a group or network, noting that so much had happened in recent weeks with massive skills in surveillance, logistics, case management (diagnosis and treatment) communication etc, built for the country.

He said that making them to be in groups would help the government to have a framework in place so as to do the right thing at the right time.

On the Chinese doctors in Nigeria to help contain the pandemic, Oyibo urged the government to clearly define their roles.

“There should be more communication on what they are needed for when the country’s health team has successfully managed cases.

“Their roles should be clearly defined as we put the country’s interest first. Professional and ethical conduct is critical,” he said. (NAN)

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