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Nigeria, other countries spend $11trn on COVID-19 emergency response

By News Desk

The President, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Benedict Oramah, has disclosed Nigeria, and other countries across the globe have spent no fewer than 11 trillion dollars to combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Oramah noted that the cost of combatting pandemics had always been very high, both in loss of lives and the economy, and that that the emergency response for the pandemic cost Nigeria over N30,540,563,571.09 in first four months of the outbreak to fight COVID-19, out of the N36.3 billion public funds and donations.

He noted that it was time for the African continent to be strategic when dealing with pandemics as some countries struggled financially.

Oramah said this at the ongoing first virtual International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA 2021) on Thursday. The African Union (AU) and Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) organised CPHIA 2021, with over 10,000 participants from 140 countries around the world.

The Executive Director of the Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (RHI) of the University Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, Prof Helen Rees, said that the Omicron variant spread more easily than others.

He said that was why many countries had high numbers. “It’s not just the virus. This is what’s killing people: It’s years of living with health conditions that haven’t been properly managed,” she explained.

Rees said that the COVID-19 vaccine still worked, and encouraged people to get vaccinated to protect themselves against the Omicron variant even though it was not as severe as other variants.

Rees added that the Ebola vaccine had been a success story because of community engagement and the continent should study that because it was incredible.

“We must communicate amongst each other. The continent must not repeat misinformation in the health sector. Give people the factual information and also address legitimate questions by people,” she urged.

In his presentation on “Institutional Capacity Strengthening for Health Research and Development in Africa,” a clinician-scientist, Dr Michael Makanga, said that COVID-19 had shown that the continent needed to invest in research information systems and strong collaboration.

He said that there was need to continue to grow strategic partnerships with both public and private sectors to draw in money, but also expertise and bi-directional exchange.

Makanga said that building institutional research capacity on the continent could create incentives to produce high quality research. He added that clinical trial sites needed to be supported financially and in terms of expertise by both the public and private sectors.

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