By Adedapo Adesanya
The United States Government has donated 200 ventilators to Nigeria as part of efforts to tackle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This was made by the US Ambassador, Ms Mary Beth Leonard, on Tuesday in an handing over event done by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Minister of Health, Mr Osaige Ehanire in Abuja.
Ms Leonard said the 200 ventilators being transferred are compact, portable and can easily be mobilised to reach patients with the most severe symptoms of COVID-19, adding that it was the result of a recent promise made by the American government to send ventilators to Nigeria.
US President Donald Trump in a phone conversation with President Muhammadu Buhari two months ago had promised to assist Nigeria in fighting the pandemic.
Speaking on this, the US Ambassador said, “This donation consists of 200 ventilators, which, as we all know by now, are a critical component of the response strategy to save the lives of persons who have been severely impacted by this viral infection.
“They will certainly be of great benefit to the people of Nigeria and I wish to convey the appreciation of His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“And of the government of Nigeria, to President Donald Trump and the United States Government for the generous consideration and friendly gesture.
“Our support includes training on the use and maintenance of this equipment, ensuring that the ventilators can address other respiratory illnesses in the years beyond the virus.
“USAID will work very closely and energetically over the next couple of weeks with the Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force to bring these ventilators across each of Nigeria’s states and the FCT.
“In fighting the COVID pandemic, it is critically important that doctors have adequate access to medical oxygen, as these ventilators depend on a reliable supply to be effective in treating patients with severe symptoms.
“The United States has been pivotal in supporting Nigeria’s membership in the ‘Every Breath Counts’ Coalition. Nigeria is now one of just two countries in Africa to have an “oxygen roadmap” that seeks to fight against pneumonia, hypoxemia, and now COVID-19.”
Ms Leonard lauded Nigeria’s effort in combating the virus and efforts of the country in taking early action to combat and mitigate its spread.”
“I hope to see Nigeria continue this trajectory as an example for other nations to follow,” Ms Leonard added.
She said the American people remain committed to working with Nigeria to implement effective disease surveillance efforts and to improve its capacity to safely isolate and treat confirmed cases as we look ahead to a virus-free Nigeria.
Speaking on behalf of the federal government, Mr Ehanire, said the ventilators were valuable equipment to support Nigeria in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have worked hard to cope and, where necessary, adjust to the changes.
“The Federal Ministry of Health, and its public health Agency, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), have focused on providing guidance to tackle the challenges.
“Our health workers have been trained and equipped and are doing the needful to attend to COVID-19 patients and give emergency care, while not losing sight of routine and essential health services.
“I believe they, and the people of Nigeria, are encouraged and reassured by the arrival of these ventilators to facilitate critical care aspects of treatment.
“I wish to also commend the United States Agency for International Development, the US Center for Disease Control and the US Ambassador to Nigeria – Her Excellency Mary Beth Leonard, for their interest and engagement in Nigeria, even beyond the advent of COVID-19.
“Her Excellency has demonstrated personal concern by paying a solidarity visit to the Federal Ministry of Health,” Mr Ehanire said.
Mr Ehanire, however, called on the United States Government to lend its full weight to global efforts to find efficient therapeutics and vaccines to neutralize the threat of COVID-19 to the global community and to guarantee fair allocation to all countries and people.
“The speed and ease with which COVID-19 has spread across the globe clearly show that it is a threat to mankind.
“Without the full collaboration of all nations, the threat of COVID to any one part of the world is a threat to all,” Mr Ehanire also said.
“We appreciate that this gift comes against the backdrop that the United States is also fighting its own fierce battle against the COVID-19 plague. We wish them the very best in this challenge,” Mr Ehanire said.
He further said the nation witnessed the severity of the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on health systems, economy and social structure of all nations, especially on the low and lower-middle-income countries of the world.
Also speaking, the Director-General of the NCDC, Mr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the more the ventilators, the more chances for people to survive COVID-19.
Mr Ihekweazu, who was represented by the Agency’s Director of Lab Services, Mr Nwando Mba, said the additional ventilators will support Nigeria’s response to not just COVID-19 but also intensive care.
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