The Coronavirus pandemic has been the most discussed issue in Nigeria since its first confirmed cases in February. As of the time of filing this report, close to two million persons have been affected across the globe and over 60,000 persons have been buried.
While many countries across all continents battle for survival, Africa countries including Nigeria need at least $114bn to fight the pandemic, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
POLITICS NIGERIA understands that as of the time of this publication, experts are yet to get the vaccine and the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a warning that in order to avoid contracting the illness, people must “stay at home”.
In Nigeria, it has infected a total of 782 of which 197 recovered and have since been discharged. The country has also recorded 25 deaths including President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, late Mallam Abba Kyari.
Due to this menace, the Federal and state governments forbid gatherings of more than 20 persons. Several violators have been arrested, arraigned, prosecuted and convicted. A very notable case is that of Funke Akindele, a popular actress who organised a birthday party for her husband. She was duly prosecuted alongside her husband by Lagos State government and made to pay a fine of N100,000 each.
President Muhammadu Buhari imposed a month lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja. It was first for two weeks and later extended. He said the extension was to further check the spread of COVID-19. The president appealed to Nigerians to obey the directive and orders by different state governments.
“This is not a joke. It is a matter of life and death,” Mr Buhari said.
Decaying health sector
The Nigeria Medical Association and the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives also expressed their concern over the poor state of the country’s health sector. Nurses especially, claim to have been ‘marginalised’ by authorities.
“While health workers risk their lives for the public good, there is no provision for remuneration or any encouragement from government,” chairperson of the association of nurses and midwives at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Samuel Adeyemi said.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, recently condemned that state of Nigeria’s healthcare infrastructure. Mr Mustapha, who is also the chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, said: “I can tell you for sure, I never knew that our entire healthcare infrastructure was in the state in which it is. Until I was appointed to do this work,” he said.
He noted that the pandemic has provided the opportunity to examine the state of the national health care systems which is in dire need of reforms and funding.
To tackle the Coronavirus scourge, in early April, the Federal Government has earmarked the sum of N500 billion as ‘special funds’ to combat the virus.
This newspaper, however, looks at how the funds could better be managed. Our analysis shows if properly divided, each local government could get about N640 million which can help in providing a complementary healthcare system in Nigeria.
The 774 local government areas in the country will be able to get nine ventilators each, construction and development of nine laboratory centres, employment of nine health workers and at least 1 laboratory attendant. This will contribute greatly to strengthening the failing health sector.
An expert, Lekan Alao who spoke with POLITICS NIGERIA said: “corruption is the order of the day in Nigeria but we can contain it. The health sector is the most important”.
“If all local government areas get N640 million as analysed the country health system won’t be the same and folks will not have the need to be travelling abroad for treatment,” he said.
He told POLITICS NIGERIA that the funds if disbursed “must be tracked by credible platforms like yours”.