Nigeria government and the United Nations (UN), have launched a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Basket Fund to harmonise investments for the National Pandemic Response Plan.

At the launch of the fund in Abuja on Monday, Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, said that contributing to end to the spread of the virus in Nigeria requires a cooperative approach across all sectors.

Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force,(PTF), said that the national COVID 19 leadership of Nigeria met with the UN leadership and key bilateral donors to discuss the unfolding emergency.

“Both parties agreed to adopt the Four Ones, guiding principles of engagement for national authorities and partners to respond to the pandemic, one agreed National COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Pandemic Response Plan;

“One COVID-19 National Coordinating Authority with a broad-based multi-sector mandate;

“One COVID-19 Monitoring and Evaluation System for tracking and reporting progress; and One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform,” he said.

The SGF said that the COVID-19 Basket Fund which was being launched had been designed to serve as the One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform, through which the different stakeholders including UN, other multilateral and bilateral donors, as well as private sector donors, foundations and philanthropists could channel their financial contributions to the multisectoral efforts of the PTF on COVID-19 Response.

He stated that the One COVID 19 Basket Fund was robust and was capable of rapid procurement of equipment and consumables as well supporting socio-economic interventions of vulnerable groups.

Amongst others, he said that as well as efforts aimed at scaling up surveillance, testing, isolation, contact tracing, personal protection equipment for medical staff, disinfectants for medical facilities, risk communication, community engagement and clinical management of the critically ill.

Mustapha added that the Basket Fund would also fund socio-economic measures, such as cash transfers or food distribution to vulnerable groups.

“The Government of Nigeria appreciates the role the UN is playing to rally partners to support our nation’s efforts to fight the pandemic, and the operationalization of the One COVID19 Basket fund will be of great help in complementing Government’s efforts to coordinate mobilisation and rapid deployment of assistance where it is needed the most,” he said.

Mr Edward Kallon, UN, Resident Coordinator and Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Nigeria, said that the COVID-19 Basket Fund would be facilitated and implemented by the UN system in Nigeria, through a Project Management Board comprising representatives of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Response, relevant Government agencies, contributing donors and the UN system.

“We applaud the Nigerian government at all levels for its efforts and measures to urgently mobilize resources to address the impact of COVID-19.

“But the Government cannot do it alone. For the country to succeed in fighting back the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, we must all come together across all sectors to support the government at this time of great need,” he said.

Kallon said that the National COVID-19 Response Plan was developed around 10 pillars, encompassing scaling up surveillance, testing, isolation, contact tracing, infection prevention and control including protection of medical staff, case management of critically unwell COVID-19 patients, risk communication and community engagement, research and emergency preparedness, security and logistics for mass care, and coordination and resource mobilization.

He added that the UN system was supporting the Government of Nigeria through the Basket Fund and urging others to invest in the 10 pillars of the national response plan.

He noted that those who where called upon by the government and donors, the Basket Fund would also fund socio-economic measures, such as cash transfers or food distribution to vulnerable groups adversely affected by measures instituted to control further spread of the pandemic.