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Nigeria Receives $10.6 Million in COVID-19 Assistance

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The U.S. government in early March announced that it will provide an additional $10.6 million toward Nigeria’s COVID-19 response.

Delivered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the funds will bolster primary health care systems and state-level data collection and analytics, and train health workers.

“These new funds will deepen our support for all levels of government” to address the pandemic, USAID Mission Director Anne Patterson said.

The aid increases total U.S. assistance to Nigeria to $179 million under the five-year, $2.1 billion Development Objectives Assistance Agreement signed in 2021.

Since the pandemic started, the U.S. has provided more than $73 million toward Nigeria’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, including ventilators, epidemiological COVID-19 detection surveys, technical assistance and service plans.

In January 2021, the U.S. delivered a $1.3 million field hospital to the Federal Medical Center in Abuja. The field hospital includes four negative-pressure isolation facilities that can house up to 40 patients, and an auxiliary generator, beds, showers, lavatories and other equipment. Negative-pressure rooms ensure that patients in any condition receive medical care, including surgeries, without contaminated air flowing out.

Alaska Structures manufactured the hospital, and a Nigerian team built it in Abuja.

With help from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Nigerian officials in October opened an integrated screening and service delivery site for tuberculosis (TB), HIV and COVID-19 at Rivers State University Teaching Hospital in Port Harcourt. The goal is to incorporate COVID-19 screening where HIV and TB services already are provided to improve coronavirus detection and prevention.

Nigeria also has fought the pandemic with its own resources. When the country experienced a deadly second wave of infections in January 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a roughly $17 million project to build 38 oxygen plants across the nation. The government earmarked an additional $671,000 to repair oxygen facilities in five hospitals.

The pandemic also has encouraged Nigerian ingenuity. In September 2020, the country developed a new rapid test designed to detect COVID-19 more quickly and at lower costs than other tests.

Known as SIMA — the SARS-COV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay — the test is faster than the conventional test, PCR (polymerase chain reaction), which detects the virus’s DNA. The test kit is simple, portable and can run 16 samples at a time. It operates at temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius and gives results in about 40 minutes.

Infection Rates, Deaths Declining

On March 9, Nigeria reported no COVID-19 deaths in the country in more than two weeks as the rate of new infections declined.

Iorhen Akase, head of the infectious diseases unit at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, urged the federal and state governments to review their COVID-19 response guidelines to address the “current infection figures.”

“Going forward, we should decide on our approaches based on our local experience,” Akase told the state-run News Agency of Nigeria. “Should people still be doing PCR tests when they come into the country or are we okay with just rapid testing? … Should we be testing people who were previously infected with COVID-19? Should we be testing children? In which group of people are we seeing more vulnerability within the country? How is the elderly behaving? There are lots of questions to be answered and these should be done based on data.”

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