After expending several billions of naira as intervention from its members, organised private sector has said that stopping the community spread of the Coronavirus pandemic is the only way to get the nation’s economy back on track and prevent resurgent in the country.
The Private sector led Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) said the present situation demands that all efforts should be geared towards grassroots awareness campaign against community spread across the country if the gains of the past in combating the deadly virus is to be sustained.
The CACOVID recently, flagged-off the second phase of its grassroots awareness campaign in Lagos, which is aimed at forestalling further spread of the viral disease to suburbs and other rural and semi-urban communities, especially through community transmission.
CACOVID administrator and CEO of Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), Mrs Zouera Youssoufou said in Lagos, while receiving briefings from the Grassroots awareness campaign team,, that the coalition embarked on grassroots awareness campaign against community spread when it realised that experiences in other countries revealed that even after the virus is tamed, there would be a possibility of resurgent of the infections if people are not sufficiently educated on basic hygiene and made to comply with protocols and guidelines.
According to her, government at all levels and the private sector operators have done so much to tackle the global challenge posed by Covid-19 and it would therefore be preposterous to relax at this time and allow the people get back to old lifestyles and ignore the preventive measures against the disease.
She explained that the coalition launched the phase two of the grassroots awareness campaign after experiences from the phase of the campaign showed that a lot still needed to be done and a lot of areas remained to be covered to sensitize the people that preventing the virus is in their hand.
The CACOVID leaders have done a lot to pool resources together to compliment government efforts at curbing the disease and that the awareness campaign is the next line of action that efforts should be geared towards.
Youssoufou said CACOVID has been involved in community engagements, creating awareness, posting posters, distributing facemasks and liquid sanitizers and that the response of the people to the campaign has been encouraging.
She explained, “This grassroots campaign is to help forestall further spread of the disease to suburbs and other rural communities in Lagos and Rivers states as well as in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
“The awareness campaign is to further strengthen the efforts of the government in the fight against community spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, through inter-personal and sustained enlightenment campaign that will help to educate people in communities on the recommended hygiene protocols to keep individuals and families safe.
“The pilot phase of the campaign in local government areas across Lagos, Rivers and Abuja will address the fragmented understanding in our more remote areas of how the disease spreads in community and how to prevent it.”
The CACOVID administrator disclosed that the coalition had purchased food stuffs worth N23 billion which is currently being distributed as palliatives across 1.7 million households in 774 local government areas in all the states in Nigeria and the FCT to cushion the effect of the pandemic.
She stated that the grassroots campaign is good to follow with foods being provided for the people and the economy gradually opening up.
In his own comment, CACOVID communications coordinators, Anthony Chiejina, said, the coalition have come to a painful realisation that the coalition’s communication efforts so far have not successfully reached the semi-urban and rural communities.
He said “it was this development that triggered the CACOVID grassroots awareness and mobilisation campaign to directly engage and address all of the misconceptions about COVID-19 and its transmission, as well as to encourage immediate adoption of safe personal hygiene practices”.
Chiejina pointed out that the grassroots awareness and mobilization campaign is starting at an auspicious time when the Federal government is re-opening the economy, adding that it is especially important at this time to reinforce basic information in order to forestall the possibility of more community outbreak of the disease.
It would be recalled that CACOVID had assisted the federal and state governments in providing medical supplies as well as building isolation centers to treat Covid-19 infection aftermath the breakout of the pandemic.
The group also provided testing equipment to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), organised training for medical personnel handling the Covid-19 cases and distributed bread and other food stuffs to residents of Lagos during the lockdown.
Nigerian private sector leaders announced the creation of the Coalition Against Coronavirus (CA-COVID) in March, 2020. The initiative, which is led by Aliko Dangote, through the Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) and Herbert Wigwe of Access Bank, is also backed by Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) among others.
The devastating impact of the pandemic and the limited resources available to the government to tackle the health crisis, the private sector in the Nigeria decided to come together and set up the CACOVID-19 to assist the government to fight the virus.
Its mission is to mobilise private sector leadership and resources to support health facilities to respond to the crisis and also to use their reach to increase awareness through the country about the pandemic.
Also, since its inauguration earlier this year, CACOVID in partnership with the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) the UN System and the World Health Organisation (WHO), has been in the forefront of uniting the organised private sector to execute initiatives aimed at combating community spread of the global pandemic in Nigeria.
CA-COVID has so far provided testing supplies, and isolation and treatment centres, in Lagos (500 beds), Kano (500 beds), Rivers (210 beds), Abuja (200 beds), Enugu (200 beds) and 100 beds in all the other States of the Federation. The centres are fully equipped with medical supplies and trained personnel to cater to affected persons.