No prior experience, global upheavals (like the second World War), nor humanity’s collective experience with pandemics could have prepared the world for how the year 2020 turned out. When the story of how we emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic is told years from now, what will be most prominent is how humanity came together to fend off its invisible enemy. The private sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) will also be heralded as one of Nigeria’s heroes at the forefront of Nigeria’s fight against the pandemic.
CACOVID started off as two people’s answer to the call for social responsibility, two organization’s move to respond, and now over 100 organizations and individuals are seamlessly working together to achieve the common goal of eradicating COVID-19 from Nigeria.
Herbert Wigwe and Aliko Dangote, through their respective organizations, Access Bank and Aliko Dangote foundation, partnered to start a movement that has been central to the successess recorded so far in Nigeria’s fight against the novel coronavirus. So far, CACOVID has raised over 27 Billion Naira to help Nigeria in combating COVID-19, through the provision of treatment, testing, training and isolation centers across the country as well as donating medical equipment and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to existing centres. The Coalition has also offered support to the most vulnerable with palliatives to make the enforced lockdowns, which became necessary to contain the spread of the disease, easier to bear. Furthermore, CACOVID has supplied relevant agencies with kits to aid the government’s effort to ramp up testing in Nigeria. CACOVID has not reneged on its promise. It has done all that it pledged and more.
The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced in the latest of its daily updates on COVID-19, that the country has so far recorded 8,733 cases , 2,501 recoveries and 254 deaths. Staying true to its promise, CACOVID has been instrumental in shoring up the country’s preparedness to fight the pandemic.
The appropriate response to COVID-19 as advised by WHO is to practice social distancing, while keeping proper hygiene, and ramping up testing within countries in order to gauge the scale of the pandemic within national borders. The latter created a surge of demand for testing kits around the world, making the much-needed kits highly prized, with countries queuing up to receive as well.
In response to this, CACOVID ordered 250,000 supplies of test kits and another 150,000 extraction kits to allow for proactive containment of the virus. This was the first in a series of interventions the coalition will deploy.
As part of the first phase of CACOVID interventions, the coalition had helped to either build Isolation centres or donated medical equipment and PPEs to states that have isolation centers. CACOVID has since expanded to cover all 36 states in Nigeria and the FCT.
In the span of one month alone, the coalition has commissioned isolation centers in Rivers, Anambra, Kwara, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Kano, Delta, Borno, Plateau, Osun, Zamfara, Adamawa, Bauchi, Abuja, Gombe and Kogi.
As some of the country’s major cities were rounding up a fourth week of lockdown, CACOVID unveiled a palliative drive to feed 1.7 million households across the country. This ambitious plan is targeted to feed 10% of Nigeria’s 200million+ population. The Coalition has reportedly procured 200-truckload full of food items spanning 10kg bags of rice, 5kg bags of garri, cartons of noodles, 3 to 5kg packs of sugar, 1kg bags of salt, pasta and more. Each household will be receiving the relief items of about 20 to 22kg.
To ensure that these items reach those intended, CACOVID has put in place a robust logistics plan that will cater to door to door deliveries. Leveraging the expansive network of its members, representatives of the Coalition will be assigned in all 774 local governments in Nigeria to ensure the relief items get to the intended beneficiaries.
The food relief provision comes at an appropriate time as hunger has become a prominent theme in households across the country.
Looking beyond the pandemic
As many countries and world capitals have been put under strict lockdown, major industrial production chains have been brought to a halt.
The travel industry has been significantly affected, with airlines cancelling all flights and customers cancelling business and holiday trips due to travel bans introduced by world governments. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy will shrink by 3% this year. The IMF described the decline as the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Although it said that the coronavirus has plunged the world into a “crisis like no other”, it does expect global growth to rise to 5.8% by 2021 if the pandemic fades in the second half of 2020.
Many businesses, that had prior to the crisis seemed stable enough to weather any storm, have taken strict measures to maintain profitability or in other cases, to keep the business afloat long enough to outlast the pandemic.
In some parts the world, countries with the best healthcare systems have reported cases outweighing the availability of their care facilities and equipment, showing the gravity of the pandemic.
According to the World Health Organization, Nigeria has one of the largest stock of Human Resources for Health (HRH) in Africa but, like the other 57 HRH crisis countries, has densities of nurses, midwives and doctors that are still too low to effectively deliver essential health services (1.95 per 1,000).
In recent years, migration to foreign countries has declined and the primary challenge for Nigeria is inadequate production and inequitable distribution of health workers. The health workforce is concentrated in urban tertiary health care services delivery in the South -West part of the country, particularly in Lagos. The resultant effect of this has been that the healthcare facilities in most states will not be adequate in the event of major COVID-19 outbreaks.
To bridge this gap, the donations by CACOVID, ranging from the full construction of centres in locations like Lagos to the refurbishment of others (Abuja, Enugu, etc.) and the donation of equipment and PPEs, will go a long way in not only Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, but also improve the general standing of healthcare in Nigeria.
CACOVID’s response to this global crisis has inspired renewed faith in private-sector institutions which had hitherto only been in the collective consciousness of Nigerians as mere service providers and no more. As the world continues to wait patiently for concrete progress on the treatment and eradication of COVID-19, Nigeria’s private sector hopefully continues to play its part, arming the government with requisite tools to protect its indigenes and ensuring the most vulnerable citizens are catered for.