11 June, Abuja - On 27th February 2020, Nigeria confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in Ogun State. With over 150,000 cases reported since then, Nigeria’s response has been driven by coordination, collaboration and solidarity across federal and state governments, the international community, private sector and civil society organisations. In partnership with Channels Television, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU) today hosted a two-hour live Town Hall that brought experts together to reflect on Nigeria’s COVID-19 response, while discussing lessons learned and how to build forward for a more resilient future.
Broadcasted live from the Channels Television studios in Lagos and Abuja, the Town Hall opened with a ten-minute documentary that assessed response efforts so far, looking in depth at the impact on Nigeria and critical stakeholders’ collaborative efforts in the fight against COVID-19. The documentary was then followed by three panel discussions featuring experts who shared their perspectives on how Nigeria responded to the pandemic, from the first confirmed case, discussing key milestones and reflecting on lessons learned.
Participants in the Town Hall included Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Tomi Coker, Hon. Commisioner of Health, Ogun State, Dr. Sani Aliyu, former National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force, Ms. Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Njide Ndili, Country Director, PharmAccess Foundation, Mrs. Zouera Youssoufou, Managing Director and CEO, Aliko Dangote Foundation, Ms. Rushnan Murtaza, UNICEF Deputy Representative, Nigeria, Mr. Obinna Ukachukwu, Divisional Head of Education and Health, Sterling Bank, and Mr. Mohamed Yahya, Resident Representative, UNDP Nigeria.
"As we work to sustain the national response to COVID-19 to keep our cases low, we are committed to building on lessons learnt” said Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. “Our goal as Nigeria’s National Public Health Institute is to strengthen long-term partnerships that evolved from the response, to move beyond being recipients of care and donations to participants in the science and innovation of global preparedness and response to infectious disease threats."
Discussions at the Town Hall also looked in-depth at the United Nations role in the response. At the onset of the crisis, the UN system in Nigeria, in collaboration with the Government, launched the One UN Basket Fund to complement ongoing efforts to mobilise resources in support of the National COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Pandemic Response Plan, developed by the Presidential Task Force. The Basket Fund aimed to serve as the One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform for diverse stakeholders to channel their financial support to ensure an efficient, effective and impactful response to the coronavirus pandemic. Partners such as Team Europe, Aliko Dangote Foundation, AP Maersk, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and the Governments of Norway, Canada, United Kingdom and Switzerland are included in the Basket Fund and have provided contributions of $73,341,977 USD towards response efforts.
"The COVID-19 response in Nigeria has required cohesive, collective and immediate action, including harnessing social safety nets for the most vulnerable people. This response has demonstrated that we are stronger together. It is only through close joint efforts such as this that we can keep Nigerians healthy and ensure good care for those affected," said Ms. Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS.
The Town Hall captured diverse views of experts from the health, economic, education and social perspective, with regards to the COVID-19 response. Discussions throughout the Town Hall put forward how the country can sustain the gains made from the lessons learned, in order to mitigate the impact of future outbreaks.
“The COVID-19 response in Nigeria requires a whole society approach to limit the spread and to cushion the potentially devastating impact it may have on people and the economy” said UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Mohammed Yahya. “Therefore, enhancing trust and cooperation, within and among communities and, between people and the Government, is critical for a sustained fight against the pandemic. It is our hope that this Town Hall will shine a light on the lessons learned and the tireless efforts of all stakeholders involved, while raising awareness of the key challenges that need to be addressed moving forward”.
The full programme can be accessed here.