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.
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 a finance 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 making the provision of needed socio-economic support, including cash transfer and food distribution to the vulnerable groups, easier to achieve.
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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 operationalisation of the one COVID19 basket fund, saying it will be of help in complementing government’s efforts to coordinate mobilisation and rapid deployment of assistance where it is needed 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 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 workers, disinfectants for medical facilities, risk communication, community engagement and clinical management of the critically ill.
“The Nigerian government appreciates the role the UN is playing to rally partners to support our nation’s efforts to fight the pandemic, and the operationalisation of the One COVID19 Basket Fund will be of great help in complementing government’s efforts to coordinate mobilisation and rapid deployment of assistance where it is needed 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.
It is now my singular privilege to launch this ONE COVID-19 Basket Fund,” Mustapha 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 March 23, 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 April 7 (today).
He hailed the partners that in spite of the same problem in their home countries, they still had the heart to assist Nigeria.