The private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) has ordered for 250,000 test kits and 150,000 extraction kits to fast track the molecular testing for COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.
The coalition, in a statement on Monday, April 20, 2020 in Lagos, said that the collaborative efforts was required to eliminate COVID-19 pandemic.
It also disclosed plans to provide food relief packages to 1.7 million households as part of the complementary efforts to alleviate effects of the restriction of movement and lockdown directive adopted by the Federal and some State Governments.
The coalition said that it has set up isolation centres in five states – Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Borno and Enugu, as well as in Abuja, while renovations of hospitals and medical supplies were being carried out in other states.
Ms Zouera Youssoufou, Chief Executive Officer, Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), said in the statement that all partners in CACOVID were ready to commenced building and equipping isolation centres in some states.
According to her, there are currently three testing platforms for molecular testing in Nigeria, one of which is the Open Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines.
She added that the coalition had ordered for 10 units of the machines and 150,000 extraction kits.
“The other is Roche Cobus Platform with six machines in Nigeria, each capable of testing 960 tests at a time.
“Nigeria is on the track to receive 38,000, but we have ordered for 250,000, and the 10,000 tests ordered by UNICEF arrived on April 16.
“We also have Cepheid Gene Expert Machines– there are 400 machines installed in the country, while 250 are expected to be functional with trained laboratory technicians.
“Cepheid has developed a COVID-19 testing cartridge that has received FDA approval, and will begin shipping to Africa in two weeks.
“We have ordered for 250,000 cartridges and expect shipment receipt in two weeks,” Youssoufou said.
In his remarks, Mr Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc., said the Coalition knew the fight against COVID-19 was not going to be easy, but would require collaborative efforts of all.
Wigwe said that the CACOVID-19 was approaching the fight against the virus from three levels.
“One, it was clear from the beginning that no one institution can do it alone, so we solicit everybody’s cooperation in tackling this scourge.
“Two, while several measures are being taken to stop the spread, including lockdown, restriction, social distancing, there is the need to address the hunger.
“How do we cater for the feeding needs of the people, if these measures are to be effective?” he said.
Wigwe explained that the third level was the thought leadership aspect of the plan which was to tackle the post-pandemic aspect, noting that a lot of businesses had been badly affected and economies disrupted.
“How do we get them back to life after we might have defeated the Coronavirus?” he said.
Wigwe said that the modalities to get the food relief materials to the targeted households, would be done from the bottom of the pyramid across the 774 local government areas of the country.
He expressed optimism that the food relief materials would reach all intended beneficiaries, adding that the Aliko Dangote Foundation had been distributing foods to the vulnerable in states with notable results.
Also, Mr Ferdi Moolman, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, appealed to other private sector organisations that had yet to identify with CACOVID in the onerous task to join hands and make their modest contributions.
Moolman added that no organisation could afford to stay aloof, noting that the world was not at peace currently, as every nation was combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Oluwafunke Ishola