The United Nations system in Nigeria and federal government Monday launched the COVID-19 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 on COVID-19.
The Basket Fund would serve as the One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform for diverse stakeholders like the UN, multilaterals, bilaterals, private sector, foundations and philanthropists to channel their financial support to ensure an efficient, effective and impactful response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 Basket Fund would be facilitated and implemented by the UN system in Nigeria, through a Project Management Board comprising representatives of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Response, relevant government agencies, contributing donors and the UN system.
“We applaud the Nigerian government at all levels for its efforts and measures to urgently mobilize resources to address the impact of COVID-19. But the Government cannot do it alone. For the country to succeed in fighting back the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, we must all come together across all sectors to support the government at this time of great need,” said Mr Edward Kallon, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Nigeria.
The National COVID-19 Response Plan is developed around 10 pillars, encompassing scaling up surveillance, testing, isolation, contact tracing, infection prevention and control (including protection of medical staff), case management of critically unwell COVID-19 patients, risk communication and community engagement, research and emergency preparedness, security and logistics for mass care, and coordination and resource mobilisation.
The UN system is supporting the government of Nigeria through the Basket Fund and urging others to invest in the 10 pillars of the national response plan.Where called upon by government and donors, the Basket Fund would also fund socio-economic measures such as cash transfers or food distribution to vulnerable groups adversely affected by measures instituted to control further spread of the pandemic.
Under the Delivering as One framework, the UN in Nigeria, through the Basket Fund, has already mobilized and deployed over USD $2 million from the UN system for the procurement of essential medical supplies that will boost the efforts of the Nigerian Government in containing COVID-19 and caring for those confirmed cases in need of serious medical attention.
Other key donors have welcomed the creation of the Basket Fund as a mechanism to channel urgent assistance.
“At this time of need, Nigeria is not alone, the European Union is commiting to supporting the Government of Nigeria in addressing the challenges of the pandemic. The COVID19 Basket Fund avails us with the opportunity to cooperate and act rapidly in the deployment of assistance that can help enhance the healthcare services and cushion the most vulnerable,” said Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS.
“We must also commend the Executive Director of Global Fund for exhibiting flexibility, which has allowed Nigeria to submit a proposal to reprogramme savings from existing Global Funds grants to urgently scale up surveillance, diagnostics, infection control and other strategic measures to support the national COVID-19 response plan,” said Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health.
Reflecting on the magnitude of the impact of COVID-19 and the need for actors to come together, the chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Response, Mr Boss Mustapha, said the federal government “appreciates the role the UN is playing to rally partners to support the country’s efforts to fight the pandemic, and that the operationalisation.”
Mustapha , who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said the COVID-19 Basket Fund would be a great help in complementing government’s efforts to coordinate rapid deployment of assistance where it is needed the most.