The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) through the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), has started the distribution of its second consignment of COVID-19 medical supplies as part of regional response to the pandemic to Member States starting with the Nigerian government.The consignment consist of PPEs, COVID-19 test kits, consumables and other medical equipment. These items were donated by UNDP, GIZ and the European Union (EU).
Speaking at the handover ceremony in Abuja, the Director-General of WAHO, Prof. Stanley Okolo, said the donation was part of the organisation’s mandate to support ECOWAS States in their national health response.
Prof, Okolo noted that the medical supplies worth over $18 million will be distributed to 15 West Africa countries, including Nigeria. He said the supplies would support countries in the fight against the COVID-19 virus even as Nigeria has received the first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
“The provision of critical medical supplies to aid the fight against the pandemic is one of the contributions we make towards achieving the regional health agenda at WAHO” he said, adding that “We at WAHO have set up ourselves to support both strategically and operationally. Vaccines are now beginning to arrive, and that in itself is a very good thing.”
He noted that WAHO has over half a million diagnostic test kits to be distributed. Some of the distributed supplies include Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, oxygen tube, extension, PCR tubes, and Oxygen concentrator flow splitter.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, represented by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Finance, Mrs. Halima Ahmed underscored the importance of the medical supplies to the fight against the pandemic. She therefore stressed the urgent need to strengthen regional and national capacities to respond to the health emergencies such as COVID-19 pandemic. Mrs. Ahmed commended the effort of the Nigerian government for the protection of all Nigeriansthrough evidence-based prevention and integrated disease surveillance.
In his speech, the UN Resident Representative to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mohamed Yahya, informed that they have contributed $14 million through WAHO to procure these important supplies.
He expressed his optimism that the medical supplies will help the region in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Yahya assured them that the UN family will continue to support the ECOWAS region in this crucial period.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Manager for Regional Pandemic Preparedness programme, the Minister of Health of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Dr. Ehanire Osagie noted that the response to the pandemic across member states was quite remarkable and satisfactory. He thanked partners and all those who worked tirelessly towards the procurement of the medical items.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Head of Cooperation European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mrs. Cécile Tassin-Pelzer said, “As part of a rolling programme of procurement to support the on-going response to Covid-19 and strengthen the health systems in the region, the consignments handed over today contain critical personal protective equipment (PPE) consisting of aprons, gloves and boots which will be used by the health care workers involved in response activities and patient care”.
The Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Boss Mustapha, represented by the Minister of Environment, Mahmoud Abubakar, said that the health supplies will go a long way in containing the impact of COVID-19 related deaths in the country.
“Nigeria, like many other ECOWAS Member States, is currently experiencing the second wave of the pandemic which has seen the emergence of some other strains of the virus. This is in addition to the negative impact of the pandemic on our population’s mental well-being, non-pandemic health issues and socio-economic development.”
In his remarks, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, said the donation was coming at the right time. “We appreciate the choice of Abuja by ECOWAS and WAHO as the central hub for receipt and distribution of regional supplies of medical products and equipment for the fight against COVID-19,” Mamora said. He urged Nigerians to continue to adhere to all non-pharmaceutical measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus.
The statement by the ECOWAS Commission recalled that the first consignment was handed over to ECOWAS in May 2020 and distributed to Member States in the region and that this second consignment would continue to assist in the fight against the second wave of the pandemic, which the region is battling.