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Nigeria, UN launch anti-COVID-19 joint initiative

Nigeria and the United Nations (UN), on Monday, at a ceremony in Abuja, launched a joint initiative to support the fight against the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic in the country.

The initiative, named the One COVID-19 Basket Fund for Nigeria, was launched to harmonise investments in Nigeria’s national response plan to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, Nigeria, under the joint initiative with the UN, has accessed a $2 million grant from the global body as support to procure essential medical supplies in response to COVID-19 Pandemic.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the COVID-19 Pandemic, Mr Boss Mustapha, said it would serve as financing and investment warehouse for all stakeholders, to channel their contributions to the efforts of the federal government, as represented by the PTF.

He described the initiative as a robust step, capable of easing and speeding up the procurement of equipment and consumables, as well as make the provision of needed socioeconomic support, including cash transfer and food distribution to the vulnerable groups, easier to achieve.

He, however, expressed Nigeria’s appreciation for the role the UN is playing to rally partners to support the nation’s efforts to fight the pandemic, and the operationalization of the One COVID19 Basket fund, adding that it will be of great help in complementing Government’s efforts to coordinate mobilization and rapid deployment of assistance where it is needed the most.

“I am happy to state that the COVID-19 Basket Fund which is being launched this morning 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 multi-sectoral 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 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 COVID19 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.

“We wish to register our appreciation to the Secretary General of the United Nations for commending our response to the pandemic and I assure you that this will spur Nigeria to work harder. We have the will, the people, the tools and now we have the financing structure.

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“It is now my singular privilege to launch this ONE COVID-19 BASKET FUND,” he said.

Minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, described the intervention as a great relief, expressing happiness that the first $2 million promised for commodities on 23 March 2020, when the national COVID 19 leadership of Nigeria met with the UN leadership and key bilateral donors to discuss the unfolding emergency, will start rolling in on Tuesday, April 7th.

The minister further commended the partners that inspite of the same problem in their home countries, they still had the heart to assist Nigeria.

Ehanire also commended the global fund for the latitude granted Nigeria to reprogramme some of her funding request in order to be able to address COVID-19 outbreak.

He noted that the road ahead would be rough and so the country would need all the help it can get, including bringing aggregate experience to bare in Nigeria.

United Nations Resident Coordinator and Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, commended the Nigerian government at all levels for its efforts and measures to urgently mobilize resources to address the impact of COVID-19.

“But the Government cannot do it alone. For the country to succeed in fighting back the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, we must all come together across all sectors to support the government at this time of great need”, he said.

Both parties had on the March 23rd meeting agreed to adopt the “Four Ones” guiding principles of engagement for national authorities and partners to respond to the pandemic:

(i) One agreed National COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Pandemic Response Plan;

(ii) One COVID-19 National Coordinating Authority with a broad-based multi-sector mandate;

(iii) One COVID-19 M&E System for tracking and reporting progress; and

(iv) One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform.

Dr. Sani Aliyu, National Coordinator of PTF, said the only way to deal with the pandemic is to have one harmonized single approach, one system, one fund, one authority and one response and that basket initiative is one step towards achieving that.

He noted that the pandemic caught the world by surprise, disrupted social systems, placed significant strain on health institutions globally and for systems that are already weak like developing countries like Nigeria, there’s worry about the impact this will have.

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