By Azuka Christopher
TUE 02 FEB, 2021-theGBJournal- The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi addressed a Chatham House event in London (virtual conference) today where he highlighted the role of Nigeria’s State Governments in recovery and responses to COVID-19 linked challenges.
The Governor, in his address, acknowledged the significant disruptions caused to the health and economy of nations, including Nigeria while speaking extensively on the pandemic impact on Nigeria and gave credit to Nigeria’s handling of the pandemic while comparing the country’s Case Fatality Rate (CFR) with the global and Africa’s rate of 2.2% and 2.5% respectively. Nigeria he said has fared better with its CFR of 1.2%.
‘’Six States, (Lagos, FCT, Plateau, Kaduna, Oyo and Rivers) have contributed 70% of confirmed cases, with Lagos the commercial nerve of the country contributing about 40% of total burden,’’ he noted.
Although the impact of the pandemic was relatively mild in the first wave, the virulence and mortality seen in this second wave appears to have increased significantly. With increased demands for hospital bed space and oxygen requirements necessitating an increase in spending on health services both by federal and state governments.
He said Nigeria was proactive in handling the first wave and ‘’continues to remain so’’ as he outlined the quick steps the federal government took to slow the spread of the disease around the country.
‘’On the economy front, the country was only gradually recovering from the 2015-16 recession before the pandemic struck. So, it was unsurprising that our GDP contracted by 3.5% in 2020. Given the impact of the second wave of the pandemic it is unlikely that we see GDP growth recovery to pre-pandemic levels in 2021,’’ Fayemi said.
These macro-economic challenges coupled with double digit inflation and falling per capita income have real life implications on lives and livelihoods and ‘’are of concern to us as a government.’’
According to the Governor, ‘’our primary responsibility as a government now focuses on minimising the disruptions to the population health and economic growth.’’
He the current response rests on three strategies-Prevention, Treatment and Economic
‘’On prevention, we continue to communicate and inform the public on the need to adhere to safety protocols and provide the necessary information to improve awareness about the pandemic safety protocols to be taken and how/where to go get treated are constantly published on print and electronic media.
We recognise that as with many other countries, we are battling an infodemic alongside the pandemic. A critical component of risk communications activities has been the development of information education communication (IEC) materials based on the evolving situation and social media chatter. Materials are developed at the national level and adopted by states, to local needs and languages.’’
He said the country was also on the offensive with respect to ensuring people complu with the safety protocols in place.
‘’When Nigeria reported its first case in late February 2020, only four laboratories in the country could test for COVID-19. By October 2020, testing capacity had expanded to over 70 laboratories across the 36+1 States. The scale up of laboratory services was important given the size of the country and the need to rapidly obtain results for suspected cases.’’
The Governor said, approach must now shift from emergency response to strengthening the resilience and sustainability of the country’s health system, looking forward.
‘’We must task ourselves and rethink existing assumptions and facts around financing and delivery of health care in a manner that guarantees we build back better.’’