What COVID-19 has taught humanity – VSF Taskforce

 The Victims Support Fund (VSF) Task Force on COVID-19 has said that the pandemic has taught humanity to see and treat everyone as one and the same.

“The pandemic has taught us to love one another; it has taught us to fight together. We are in this fight together and shall continue to intensify our efforts,” Mrs Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, Head of the Task Force, said on Wednesday in Abuja.

Akerele-Ogunsiji told the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) that the taskforce was focusing on three priority areas – control and suppress spread, strengthen and maintain health services, and support each other to stay safe, healthy and well.

“Our challenge is immense. Across the globe, the spread of COVID-19 continues to cause disease, death and disruption. It has pushed even the most advanced health systems to the brink,” she explained.

She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the greatest health challenges the world had ever faced, adding that it must be fought every where and by everyone in order to “keep Nigerians safe, rebuild its economy and curb the emergence of variants”.

“Our job is cut out for us – we must fight COVID-19 everywhere it exists,” she declared. 

She said that the VSF Task Force on COVID 19 spent about N979.2 million in the first phase, sank N875 million into the second phase, while the on-going third phase is expected to gulp about N1.5 billion.

“The VSF COVID-19 intervention is in three phases. The first phase covered the donation of food, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and Medical consumables to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba, Lagos and Ogun states.

“The second phase covered the donation of food, PPEs and medical consumables to Edo, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu and Ebonyi states, as well as donations to the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“The third phase covered the donation of food, PPEs and medical consumables to Benue, Plateau, Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and Kano states.

“It also covered donations to National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) and National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), as well as donations of WASH facilities to 54 schools in 18 states across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria,” she said.

She said that the VSF had provided so much to fight COVID-19 in more than 30 states, adding that its comprehensive response spans multiple sectors while its assistances was tailored to each state’s needs.

“As you are aware, VSF made the single largest donation of COVID-19 Rapid Test Kits in Nigeria to the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19.

“These 60,000 Test Kits cost a total of N210 million. They will be distributed across NYSC camps nationwide from May 17, 2021. We want more youths tested to ensure timely preparation for an impending  third wave of Coronavirus,” she added.

The head of the VSF Taskforce said that the outfit had also distributed food items to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to cushion the effect of the lockdown order.

“The exercise was aimed at mitigating the hardship faced by Nigerians, particularly the vulnerable group, who do not have a means of livelihood.

“We gave rice, beans, maize, cassava flour (garri), four litres of vegetable oil and two kgs of salt to 27,000 households across Lagos, Ogun, Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Taraba states and the FCT.

“Critical stakeholders and partners across these states were also provided with medical consumables, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, and PPEs.

“Just last week, we were in Bauchi to hand-over Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) facilities to three secondary schools in the state.

“Each school received a solar-powered borehole, hand wash stations, 2000 packs of reusable facemasks, pieces of four litres hand sanitisers, 120 bottles of 500ml liquid hand wash and five cartons of bleach,” she said.

Ogunsiji added that over 50,000 vulnerable families benefited from the VSF intervention on COVID-19 in Borno, noting that the items comprised of food and medical consumables that were distributed to IDPs in camps and host communities.

 “In Edo, we donated N154.5 million worth of items to about 2,658 households. In Delta, we donated food items and PPEs worth N154.5 million to residents,” she revealed. 

The head of the VSF task force added that the intervention became expedient following massive hunger caused by the lockdown and reported cases of loss of medical personnel to pandemic, despite their paucity in Nigeria.

She said that the foundation also donated Video Teleconferencing Solutions Device valued at N31 million, to NCDC to facilitate the centre’s service delivery.

The official added that the task force had a solid data-driven monitoring, tracking and evaluation mechanism to ensure even distribution of the items.

“We do not just donate food and leave. Our team will be on ground to join in the distribution,” she stressed.

NAN recalls that the Chairman of the VSF, retired Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, inaugurated the task force on COVID-19 intervention on March 30, 2020.

The task force was charged with the responsibility of fashioning out interventions that would complement the Federal Government’s effort toward curbing the spread of the deadly pandemic.(NAN)