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Nigeria’s private sector beats peers on COVID-19 intervention

Nigeria is spending fifty-seven times less than the global average per head on coronavirus patients. Nevertheless, its private sector has contributed five times more than the global average, and people familiar with disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa are calling for more funding.

Sub-Saharan Africa Governments do not have the firepower required to throw a blanket over the virus that other regions have, experts say. The world is spending over $2,000 (N766,800.00) per capita to combat COVID, whilst Nigeria for instance is spending $35 (N13,419.00) per capita (as of July 2020).

The private sector accounts for 5 percent of total funding mobilised versus less than 1 percent in other parts of the world. Nigeria’s private sector is doing comparatively well. However, sustainable measures are required to fill the financing gap in the long run.

“Evidence points to the fact health pandemics do more damage over the medium and long term in Africa than in other regions of the world,” Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, chairman of the Africa Initiative for Governance and co-founder of Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund Nigeria said at a World Bank Group’s event that brought together African policy makers, international institutions, bilateral development partners, and representatives from the private sector.

The objective was to provide a platform for African policymakers to highlight the acute challenges faced in their fight against the pandemic and efforts to mount a crisis response and promote a strong and sustainable recovery; take stock of promising country experiences and support provided by the international community in Africa’s fight against the pandemic; and agree on additional concrete measures from both public and private sectors to fill the large medium-term investment and financing needs that countries are facing.

“From HIV/AIDs to Malaria to Ebola, other regions of the world may have put each pandemic to bed, but 10-20 years thereafter, Africa still carries an unacceptable disease burden. Some think that global health pandemics do as much damage to African economies as do global financial crises,” Aig-Imoukhuede said.

As the world rolls out responses to the challenges of COVID-19 such as digital reskilling programmes, experts say concerted efforts are required to avoid inadvertently creating a global underclass of extremely poor, underprivileged, disadvantaged citizens mainly in Africa who cannot access these mainstream solutions.

Aig-Imoukhuede believes the Africa response must be globally funded and locally relevant supported by the public sector and private sector as partners in the business of saving lives.

This involves engaging innovative financial platforms such as the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund which is established for Nigeria by Nigerians in partnership with the Global Citizen organisation. It is an all-digital crowdsourcing philanthropic platform that is sustainable transparent that supports the vulnerable citizens of Nigeria. The Support Fund has targeted $50million in under a month and already 10 percent of the way.

Other measures suggested include funding from the international financial institutions starting with debt relief. This also demands that the international private sector and Africans in the diaspora come to the table.

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