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USAID earmarks N427m to support Nigeria’s response to COVID-19

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) says it has set aside N427 million ($1.1 million) to support Nigeria’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard

The Communications Department of USAID disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 in Abuja, following the virtual commissioning of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for Cross River State.

According to USAID, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, joined Gov. Ben Ayade in the virtual commissioning of the centre.

USAID said that the sum was to help Nigeria upgrade and expand the capacity of the nine EOCs to strengthen response to the pandemic in the country.

“On June 16, 2020, U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard joined Executive Governor Benedict Ayade to virtually commission an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for Cross River State, which has been equipped with support of the American people to track and control the spread of the deadly COVID-19.

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“Cross River is the first of nine states to receive the EOC upgrades.

“In line with priorities set by Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programmed $1.1 million (₦427 million).

“To upgrade and expand the capacity of the nine EOCs to strengthen the COVID-19 response in Nigeria,” it said.

According to the agency, the upgraded centres are now equipped as operational digital situation and communication rooms that power and coordinate the state’s COVID-19 response.

It added that the upgraded centres would also respond to other disease outbreaks, using data integration, warehousing, and visualisation to provide state officials transparent and real-time information on COVID-19.

“With the commissioning of these EOCs, Nigeria can better coordinate the COVID-19 outbreak response and surveillance activities, as well as any other emergent disease outbreaks or disasters.

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“They will help turn the tide of the pandemic within their states, ultimately the nation, and flatten the COVID-19 curve,” the agency quoted Leonard as saying.

It added that Deputy Governor of the state, Evara Esu, who responded on behalf of the state’s governor, thanked the U.S government for its continuous support in strengthening the health sector in Cross River.

“Although Cross River continues to have no documented cases, we need to be on our guard to do even more to ensure that the pandemic is brought to a speedy end or controlled to the best of our ability.

“We want to seize this opportunity to continually invite health practitioners to come to Cross River and strengthen our health system.

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“We really appreciate this support,” Esu said.

Other states supported by USAID for the upgrades include Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Kano, Niger and Oyo.

The agency disclosed that the U.S. has so far dedicated more than N92 billion ($237 million) to the COVID-19 response in Africa, with N18 billion ($48.3 million) committed to supporting the effort in Nigeria alone.

According to the agency, this includes seconding of 55 USAID and other U.S. agency staff to Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force as well as providing valuable technical assistance under the NCDC’s COVID-19 response plan.

USAID said that its and other staff would also assist on epidemiology and surveillance, case management, infection prevention and control, risk communications, and humanitarian operations.

By Lizzy Okoji

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