The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority in a bid to assist the Federal Government scale up its COVID-19 response has formally handed over 126 units of Patient Monitors and 63 units of Oxygen Concentrators to 21 healthcare institutions across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The move is part of the Authority’s COVID-19 relief programme as the country battles the second wave of the pandemic.
With the nation’s economy still in recovery, the relief equipment is expected to add to the current stock of critical medical equipment required for the containment of the virus in Nigeria.
The supply of oxygen concentrators and patient monitors is expected to boost the government’s efforts to provide an efficient and effective healthcare response for those affected by the virus.
The shortage of oxygen concentrators and patient monitors had slowed the government’s ability in providing an efficient and effective healthcare response for those affected by the virus during the first wave of the pandemic.
As of Wednesday, the country recorded 1,861 new cases in 22 states and the Federal Capital Territory taking the total confirmed cases to 126,160.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had disclosed that 22 persons died of the virus on Wednesday bringing the number of deaths to 1,544 so far.
Speaking at the virtual handing over ceremony on Thursday, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge negative impact on the global community disrupting well established health care systems.
Mustapha who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 said since the outbreak of the pandemic in Nigeria, the Federal Government had taken stringent measures to combat the spread of the virus.
He listed some of the measures so far taken to check the spread of the virus to include the ban on flights, the imposition of curfew, nationwide lockdown, and compulsory wearing of face masks among others.
However, despite these measures, the SGF lamented that the lack of compliance with non pharmaceutical measures had compelled the government to issue the Coronavirus Disease Health Protection Regulation of 2021 which was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 26.
He also said the Federal Government had rehabilitated oxygen plants and will be constructing one each in every state of the federation to boost its response to the pandemic.
Mustapha told the participants at the virtual launch that the Federal Government will not rest until it ensures that the battle against the pandemic is won.
He added: “We know that our nation is at war with this pervasive enemy and we will ensure that the virus won’t spread further.
“We are happy that the NSIA has assisted in providing these facilities and this equipment is a welcome development. It could not have come at a better time.”
He charged the healthcare centres that got the facilities to ensure that they are deployed in a manner that would help to save the lives of Nigerians.
He said, “This administration will continue to come up with measures to stop the spread of the virus. We cannot stop the spread if we fail to take responsibility.
“To those in doubt, COVID-19 is real, wear your face mask, maintain social distancing and if you can, do not travel. I want us to treat everyone as a potential carrier of COVID-19.
The SGF commended the frontline health workers for their zeal and commitment in fighting the battle against the virus.
In his comments at the event, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, commended the NSIA for its intervention in the healthcare centres in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital; Federal Medical Centre Umuahia and the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital Kano.
The Health Minister said that with the success so far recorded by the NSIA in the running of these centres, the Federal Government would be studying the model with a view to adopting it.
He said while the nation’s healthcare system is not where the government wants it to be, the NSIA model in the healthcare sector would help the country have a good health care system.
He said the government would also be working closely with the NSIA to reverse the level of medical tourism in Nigeria.
The Health Minister described the equipment by the NSIA as commendable as it would help to scale up government’s response to the COVID-19 fight
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said that since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Federal Government has been coming up with policy measures to cushion the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy.
She also said the Federal Government has adjusted the 2021 budget to boost funding for the health care sector, noting that currently, work is ongoing to raise funds to acquire COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians.
Ahmed said the response to COVID-19 pandemic has been well coordinated by the PTF under the leadership of Mustapha.
The Finance Minister also stated that the Economic Sustainability Plan which was launched at the peak of the outbreak of the virus last year has helped to provide stability and reduce the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
She commended the NSIA board for providing the equipment, adding that through this gesture, the Authority has been able to demonstrate that investment in healthcare is investment in the economy as it guarantees greater returns.
“I want to encourage the NSIA to continue its assistance in the health care sector. The equipment will help to offer succour to families affected by COVID-19,” she added.
On his part, the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu said that in the last one year, over 120,000 Covid-19 cases have been recorded with the death of 1500 people.
He said while the pandemic has affected many people and the economy, it has provided an opportunity to reposition the health care sector for effective service delivery.
The NCDC Boss explained that NSIA has been very passionate in improving health care infrastructure in the country, noting that the provision of the equipment is a good development for the country.
Ihekweazu explained that the NCDC partnership with the NSIA will help to tackle the challenges of Covid-19.
“One of our priorities is to build a sustainable relationship with NSIA to strengthen health care facilities and have an innovative way to fund health care,” he added.
In his comment, the Managing Director of NSIA, Mr Uche Orji, said the healthcare sector is a key focus for NSIA.
He said with the provision of the facilities, the NSIA has been able to boost the ability of the government to effectively tackle the pandemic.