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COVID-19 Programs in NigeriaNigeria is Africa’s largest country with a population of more than 200 million people. However, estimates place the number of fully vaccinated at around or less than 1% of the population. This is as the nation faces its third wave of COVID-19 infections. With the help of the U.S. government and COVID-19 programs in Nigeria, the country looks to successfully improve its vaccination rates and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 in Nigeria

Since Nigeria’s first known case of COVID-19 in February 2020, the country has seen a consistent spike in the total number of cases and deaths. A month after Nigeria’s first known case, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari implemented a 14-day lockdown in the country’s three major states: Lagos, Abuja and Ogun. During the lockdown, citizens underwent quarantine, travel to other states was postponed and businesses were temporarily closed.  The country then completed a gradual easing of its initial COVID-19 lockdown in phases. The first phase was initially conducted in the three major states for two weeks from May 4 to 17, but the government issued another two-week extension until June 1.

At this time, the country had a little more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases. The country then went into its second phase of easing regulations. This lasted four weeks from June 2 to June 29, during which Nigeria saw an increase of about 15,000 cases, bringing the total to more than 25,000 cases. After tallying fewer than 90,000 cases by the end of 2020, Nigeria saw a spike in COVID-19 cases in the spring of 2021 as it surpassed 160,000 cases in March.

Furthermore, Nigeria is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 cases. The country recorded its highest daily case total in the last six months when it tallied 790 cases on August 12. However, the Nigerian government is now not considering conducting another lockdown because a lockdown “stifles economic activity.” As of late September, the country has recorded more than 200,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,666 deaths.

Considering Solutions

Despite Nigeria’s low vaccination rates, hope to improve the situation remains. With donations from the U.S. government and COVID-19 programs in Nigeria, the country stands to improve its vaccination rates. In March 2021, COVAX made a significant donation to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. The delivery was the “third and largest COVID-19 vaccine donation to an African country” by the COVAX program. COVAX, which aims to guarantee equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for low-income countries, donated nearly 4 million vaccines to Nigeria.

Recently, on August 2, the United States delivered 4 million Moderna doses to Nigeria. More than a week later, the Nigerian government received 177,600 Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT). This donation is the first of 29.8 million vaccines that are being donated by the AVAT.

Looking Ahead

After only administering 3.9 million vaccines, Nigeria is expected to receive more than 40 million vaccines by the end of the year. With vaccine donations from the U.S. government and COVID-19 programs in Nigeria, the country can drastically improve its vaccine rates and work to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

– Kyle Har
Photo: Flickr

How COVID-19 Has Slowed Nigeria’s Access to MedicineNigeria, a country with both bustling cities and green plains stretching for miles, has earned the nickname “Giant of Africa.” Although Nigeria isn’t the largest country in Africa, it has the largest population with 206 million people calling it home. Even though the population in Nigeria has grown in 2020 by 2.58%, the country still has a high mortality rate and life expectancy of 54 years. Nigeria has one of the biggest HIV pandemics as well as a high risk for malaria. Access to medicine and vaccines have always been limited in Nigeria; however, COVID-19 has exacerbated the issues facing Nigeria’s healthcare system. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased restrictions on international trade, which has greatly impacted Nigeria’s pharmaceutical needs for people with pre-existing conditions, particularly those with HIV/AIDS or malaria. As 70% of Nigeria’s medical products are shipped from China and India, COVID-19 has interrupted an important part of Nigeria’s basic health needs.

Healthcare in Nigeria

Nigeria has always had trouble accessing medication as the country has a great dependency on imported products. According to Medrxiv, a server for health sciences, in 2013, only 25% of kids under the age of 2 had been vaccinated. In an attempt to secure a more efficient healthcare system, Nigeria began to manufacture its own pharmaceuticals but lately, production has been on a decline due to high prices, poor quality and a shortfall in access to medicine. Nigeria has 115 pharmaceutical manufacturers but they mainly rely on large imports from neighboring countries.

Before the virus swept across Nigeria, the country only had 350 ventilators and beds for the entire population. In April 2020, Nigeria obtained 100 more ventilators. But, what has actually been done to improve Nigeria’s basic health needs?

Changing Nigeria’s Healthcare

In 2018, four policy documents were presented to Nigeria by the Federal Minister of Health. The four policies acknowledge Nigerians need for access to medication and control of narcotics.

  1. The National Policy for Controlled Medicines — This policy, with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the European Union (EU), aims to improve healthcare services in Nigeria. By properly training healthcare professionals, narcotics can be safely monitored for medical and scientific use while avoiding abuse. The policy ensures that Nigeria will have better access to medication so citizens do not have to silently suffer. In 2012, as reported by The Global Access to Pain Relief Initiative, Nigeria only used 0.01% of narcotics to manage pain. The UNODC states, “This was largely attributed to limited or poor quantification of annual estimates, inadequate and irregular release of funds for procurement, limited knowledge and poor attitude, or issues of fear and stigma among many healthcare workers and the general populace.”
  2. National Guidelines for Quantification of Narcotic Medicines — This policy is continuous of Nigeria’s efforts to have access to “narcotic medicines.” It is a way to know how much medicine is required to fulfill Nigeria’s basic health needs. By creating a standardized system, Nigeria can estimate which and how many narcotics are needed for the country.
  3. National Guidelines for the Estimation of Psychotropic Substances and Precursors — This policy regulates “psychotropic substances,” such as alcohol, caffeine and marijuana. These drugs, according to the UNODC, can be used for “pain management including treatment of neuropathic pain and in the management of obstetric emergencies including hemorrhage, thus critical in reducing maternal deaths.” The policy verifies that these substances are and will be used for legal use only.
  4. National Minimum Standards of Drug Dependence — In the past, Nigeria treated addiction as a psychiatric condition or mental illness. Although Nigeria does not have the data to see how many people in the country have a drug dependency, treatments of addiction are changing. The policy’s goal is to have adequate care such as “counseling, vocational and occupational rehabilitation” available across Nigeria.

According to a 2020 Statista analysis, the budget for Nigeria’s healthcare is expected to increase, eventually reaching 1477 billion Nigerian naira by 2021. This can create more opportunities for Nigeria’s healthcare system, increase access to medicine and fulfill Nigeria’s basic health needs.

– Jessica LaVopa
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in Nigeria
Nigeria is located on the western coast of the African continent. Home to more than 200 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. The nation is no stranger to diseases: a dense population, frequent travelers and the Ebola outbreak have impacted thousands. Although the government successfully contained the Ebola outbreak, similar action was not taken to deal with COVID-19. As COVID-19 surges, several global humanitarian organizations are working with Nigeria’s government to combat the virus. Here are four organizations fighting COVID-19 in Nigeria.

The World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been actively involved in projects promoting health and safety in Africa for years. During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the WHO helped contain the virus in Nigeria. Recently, the organization has shifted its focus to COVID-19. In early June, the WHO recognized a lack of COVID-19 testing in many of the country’s rural communities. In response, the organization planned to educate health officials and community members on the pandemic’s severity.

The WHO has since been working with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to conduct country-wide testing and sample collection. The two organizations are now locating and mapping at-risk communities to better coordinate treatments and procedures.

World Food Programme

World Food Programme (WFP) is a food-assistance branch of the United Nations. The WFP has been especially active in recent months, combatting the food insecurity accompanying economic hardships caused by COVID-19. The program has also established and deployed food assistance task forces to reach the country’s remote communities.

Throughout the pandemic, WFP has assisted more than 715,000 of its targeted 890,000 beneficiaries. The organization continues to offer life-saving food assistance to Nigerians while providing valuable education about sanitation and safety measures.

WaterAid

WaterAid is a nonprofit humanitarian aid organization focused on providing clean water and promoting hygiene and sanitation across the globe. Amidst COVID-19, WaterAid has been collaborating with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Water Resources to incorporate clean water resources and hygienic behaviors into communities across the country.

The organization is placing an emphasis on implementing routine hand-washing practices using clean water. WaterAid is also working to educate Nigerians about the importance of staying hygienic and sanitized to minimize the risk of contracting the virus.

The World Bank

The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides countries with loans and financial services. Its current work involves collaborating with the Nigerian government to monitor and analyze the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s socioeconomic health. The World Bank is also working to determine the amount of financial aid the country requires to adequately address the pandemic. The organization has initiated a household survey called the Nigeria COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey to assist in this endeavor.

In early March, the World Bank prepared initial financial packages of up to $12 billion to assist more than 60 countries heavily affected by COVID-19. Such financial packages have helped countries like Nigeria strengthen their healthcare systems and reduce the damage to the economy. The $12 billion funding includes contributions from various facilities within the World Bank, including International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Development Association (IDA) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

When Nigeria’s first cases of COVID-19 emerged, international humanitarian and financial organizations quickly prioritized containment. While COVID-19 in Nigeria continues surging, organizations like the World Health Organization, World Food Programme, WaterAid and the World Bank Group have stepped in to support the country. As these organizations work to promote hygiene and offer treatment, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Nigeria continues to decrease and ultimately brings hope to the nation.

– Omer Syed
Photo: Flickr