The United States Government has explained the impact of her health missions to Nigeria, which it claimed, has benefitted more than 60 million Nigerians at different social strata and across all the geo-political zones.
Specifically, the world’s most powerful state has revealed that it contributed more than $73 million in equipment and technical assistance since the outbreak of COVID-19, a highly infectious viral disease that has killed over 2,063 in Nigeria.
The US Secretary of State, Mr. Antony J. Blinken and the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Beth Leonard reeled out these figures during a virtual health partnership meeting between the US and Nigeria on April 27.
Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib; Chief Medical Officer, Federal Medical Centre, Abuja, Prof. Saad Ahmed and Head of Internal Medicine Department, Abuja FMC, Dr. Jane Chukwu were at the meeting.
At the beginning, Blinken observed that the relationship between the US and Nigeria “covered a vast array of issues vital to both American and Nigerian people. A key issue that we have worked on together for years is health.”
Together, Blinken revealed that the US had reached more than 60 million Nigerians through programs that train public health workers, invest in medical facilities and improve access to medicines, vaccines, reproductive health care.
He, also, disclosed that more than 1.3 million people with HIV/AIDS are on lifesaving treatment through the US program to combat HIV/AIDS around the world under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
He pointed out a remarkable achievement, which according to him, the program is rapidly closing in on an epidemic – on epidemic control, over the next two years in Nigeria and has brought child death rates from malaria down to 16%.
In 2020, the secretary of state observed that the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared Nigeria wild poliovirus-free, an outstanding accomplishment by tireless frontline workers whom the US was proud to support through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
He said: “Now, of course, we are facing another health crisis together. COVID-19 will not end for any country until it ends for all countries. It will keep replicating around the world and turning into new variants.
“People will keep getting sick and dying. We will not be able to safely reopen our economies or travel around the world for business and tourism the way we used to. That is why the US is committed to helping end the pandemic in Nigeria and everywhere,” Blinken observed at the meeting.
He, also, observed that the US “has contributed $2 billion to COVAX, the global Covid vaccine initiative. We promised another two billion between now and 2022 as other countries also raise their ambitions. I’m very pleased that COVID-19 vaccines provided by COVAX have arrived in Nigeria.”
He revealed that dozens of people from the US had been working with local and national partners in Nigeria to respond to COVID-19 from the beginning of the pandemic.
He said: “We have been collaborating on epidemiology, outbreak response, lab operations, data analytics, and vaccine deployment.
“It is a continuation of our $5 billion investment in our decades-long partnership in public health. It is a testament to the strong and respectful relationship that we have built over the years between the Nigerian and American people. When crises strike, we are there for each other.
“In the months and years ahead, our ability to collaborate and improve the health of all Nigerians will be vital. That is why today’s conversation is important. I want to convey to all of you how grateful and proud the United States is of our partnership in health with Nigeria,” he explained.
At the meeting, therefore, Leonard acknowledged that the partnership had benefited enormously from the health partnership between the federal government and the US, noting that the US health assistance “saves lives every day.”
“COVID-19 presented new challenges and the United States responded, contributing more than $73 million in equipment and technical assistance since the start of the pandemic,” the US ambassador revealed.
Shuaib, NPHCDA’s CEO, commended the US for her health missions, observing that Nigeria received about four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine – the AstraZeneca vaccines, out of which 1.4 million had been vaccinated.
He said: “We are keenly aware that when Nigeria got four million doses as a result of the collaboration through the COVAX facility, which could not have been possible without the support of the US Government, we know that many other countries still haven’t accessed the vaccine.
“This is why the partnership of the US with many other governments under the platform of COVAX is very, very critical if we are going to end this pandemic. As a result of the collaboration with the US, we have been able to come up with a hybrid solution in terms of our rollout of the COVID-19.”