Many countries across the world are facing the unprecedented spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The challenge humanity faces today, threatens to undermine the socio-economic advancements made over the last decade. Across the world, health care systems are experiencing enormous pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when countries are grappling with immense development challenges, including climate change risks, constrained economies, growing inequalities and rising unemployment, among others.
Nigeria is not exempt from these challenges. However, its well-being is crucial for the region and the continent at large, as the majority of Africa’s population dwells in Nigeria.
As of Sunday morning 22 March 2020, Nigeria had registered 27 confirmed cases. Based on the trends observed in other countries so far, cases could rise exponentially. The country is at a pivotal slither of a window to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Together we have the opportunity to cooperate, act decisively and rapidly – if we are to slow down and contain transmissions or, prevent further infections that could potentially save lives and cushion the most vulnerable in our society. It is commendable how the Federal Government and states, are mobilizing measures, efforts and resources to monitor and contain the virus since the announcement of the first case was confirmed on 27 February 2020 and subsequent measures that are being taken by all other states.
While the Government of Nigeria is doing what it can at all levels to curb the spread of COVID-19, it cannot do it alone. For us to succeed, we must act cooperatively at all levels, to support the government’s response efforts to provide healthcare services at this time of a great human need.
Individuals too have a crucial role to play in ensuring and enabling health workers and caregivers to provide the necessary services required at this time. To remain healthy and limit the pressure the health care providers are already experiencing – taking all precautionary steps and following advice offered by health authorities is paramount. It is through the relentless and tireless efforts of health workers, caregivers and community mobilisers at the frontlines; and, each individual doing their part – that the battle with such pandemic outbreaks is won.
We, therefore, must collectively draw lessons from global trends and from our own experiences – such as the critical lessons from the management and eradication of the Ebola virus by putting in place adequate measures to increase our levels of awareness and actions, and providing all necessary support to men and women at the frontlines fighting to helpto minimize risks of COVID-19 pandemic.
Seventy-five years ago, the United Nations was created to help foster global cooperation and create a united front that can help the world to address challenges that face humanity, together. Today, the human race is tested as the world faces a health crisis brought about by COVID-19; how we rise up to the challenge through unified response and actions is what will matter the most as it will guarantee triumphing against this pandemic, despite the impact on our communities. Millions of lives are at stake, and history reminds us that it is through the interconnectedness of humanity, we conquer and adversities.
The UN system in Nigeria is ready and willing to join hands with the people and Government of Nigeria to address this enormous challenge. We are committed to working closely with the government to support rapid responses and through a number of initiatives that can help contain the COVID-19 and its eradication.
As we embark on the Decade of Action for the SDGs, there is no other more significant health challenge like the current pandemic. The COVID-19is a threat to all humanity regardless of creed, race, social status, religion or gender, and it is a threat that will be conquered through a unified purpose.
For us to flatten the curve and eventually eradicate COVID-19, we cannot let fear, misinformation and misconceptions take root – because many lives are dependent on the actions we take as a nation and individuals. Now is the time for us to apply drastic preventative measures, that can potentially help save millions of lives while acting with compassion that strengthens the resilience of our communities and reaffirms our faith in humanity to respond to unparalleled global risks.
Nigeria, like the rest of the world, will overcome these uncertain and unpredictable times. Each one of us has a part to play, in safeguarding the health of those around us, our communities and ourselves.
Kallon is the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria.