Nigerian private sector leaders announced the creation of the Coalition Against Coronavirus (CACOVID) earlier this week. The initiative is spearheaded by Access Bank Group and Dangote Industries Ltd, with support from Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, MTN, ITB and others.
CACOVID will work to fight COVID-19 by raising public awareness, supporting healthcare professionals, institutions and governments, and by mobilizing private sector leadership and resources.
As part of these efforts, CACOVID will build fully-equipped medical tents as testing, isolation, treatment and training centers. These centers will be equipped with medical equipment, supplies and trained personnel to support sick patients. Work has already commenced to ensure the facilities are completed in time to serve the growing need of the population during this critical period.
“In addition to the safety measures we have put in place, we are also extending support to complement the [Nigerian] Government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19. We have created CACOVID, tasked with the responsibility of mobilizing the private sector though leadership and resources, creating public awareness, and directing support to private and public healthcare institutions,” said Herbert Wigwe, GMD/CEO Access Bank Plc. “We are pulling together resources across industries to provide technical and operational support, while providing funding and building advocacy through aggressive awareness drives.”
As reported by the Independent, Aliko Dangote, Dangote Group Chairman, said “COVID-19 affects us all and threatens our collective health – economic, social, psychological and physical wellbeing; hence, the urgent need to work together to beat this common enemy… The task ahead is daunting and bigger than any one organization. To win this battle, it is critical we all come together as one.”
Dangote said that the facilities are in construction with respect to a potentially imminent need. He also proposed to supplement government testing with testing done at private labs in order to reduce the waiting period.
In addition, Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) had pledged N200 million to help prevent the spread of the disease. ADF Managing Director and CEO Zouera Youssoufou told CNBC Africa that the investment will help to improve point-of-entry screening as an early defense, which includes the donation of thermal cameras at airports to monitor the temperature of travelers entering the country as well ambulances, PPEs, and training of healthcare workers. She added that ADF is actively working with the Nigerian CDC, FMOH, the Lagos Ministry of Health on the COVID-19 response, and is funding surveillance efforts to monitor the pandemic across the nation.
These commitments are part of Nigeria’s private sector response to the outbreak, after its first reported case approx. two months ago, and its first death this week. There were 51 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria as of March 26th, but as reported by Reuters, “with a population of 200 million, 20 million of whom are packed into the commercial capital of Lagos, many fear the virus could spread quickly without containment.” Yesterday the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced the deployment of Rapid Response Teams to affected states to support the COVID-19 response.
To learn more about CACOVID and opportunities to contribute to the COVID-19 response in Nigeria, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.