The Federal Government on Monday appealed to those who looted its medical storage facilities to return vaccines and other medical consumables they carted away.
Expressing shock at the level looting of warehouses across the country, the Federal Government gave reasons why some states were yet to complete the distribution of palliatives sent to them by CA-COVID, a private sector coalition supporting the national response against COVID-19.
It also called on state governments not to shut down their isolation centres, saying there was need to be at alert in case of a resurgence of the pandemic.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, made the appeal at a press briefing by the PTF, adding that CA-COVID worked with the state governments in the distribution of their palliatives.
He said: “Of particular concern to the PTF, is the issue of palliatives found and looted from various warehouses around the country. It is important to make the following clarifications. The Federal Government Palliatives consisted largely of the 70MT of grains released from the Strategic Grain Reserves as well as rice secured from the Nigerian Customs Service. The share for each State were handed over to the State Governments for onward distribution to the citizens.
“The private sector coalition (CACOVID) that has been quite supportive of the Federal Government, worked with the states through the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to determine the quantum of their intervention, which was intended to be effective and equitable. A number of indices were worked out for this purpose. The National Coordinator shall also provide further distinction and the modus operandi for the distribution of the palliatives donated to the states by the coalition”.
While speaking at the briefing, the Minister of state, Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, warned against the closure of isolation centres in the states, adding that with the decline in the number of active cases and as the number of cases on admission drops, some isolation centres in the country are already making arrangements to rationalize the number of frontline health personnel into the reserve pool or redeployed.
“This would be done in a manner that will allow easy re-mobilization where necessary.
“We, however advise states and relevant stakeholders not to completely close all isolation centres due to consistent lack of patients but some centres should rather be maintained. This is to ensure promptness and readiness against any surge as part of preparation against possible second wave.
“We are taking advantage of this low active cases to carry out appraisal and reappraisal of activities at the isolation centres. This is necessary to assess and understand areas of strengths, weaknesses, available opportunities as well as dangers. Such activities will consolidate gains while taking measures to prevent re-occurrence of errors as well as deployment of appropriate resources.
“We are also making arrangements for stock taking and repurposing of equipment earlier deployed to temporary isolation centres with a view to using the opportunity provided by the resource Mobilisation for the COVID-19 response for health systems strengthening”, he stated.
Mamora also appealed to the youths to stop crashing into government medical stores, begging those who carted away items to return them.
According to him, most of the medicines and medical consumables in these stores are stored under controlled environmental conditions such as temperatures and humidity.
“Disruption of these conditions would render them ineffective and in some cases poisonous. The NCDC warehouse in Idu is used for the storage of medical and laboratory consumables and equipment. Destruction of these items will impact negatively on our response to this pandemic. I also call on all who are in possession of vaccines, medicines and other equipment and consumables to please return them. Those that can still be salvaged will be used and those that can not will be disposed off properly”, he disclosed.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu explained the relationship between CA-COVID and the states, saying depending on the delivery schedule, not all states have completed the process of distributing items sent to them.
Aliyu said: “We are all shocked by the events of the last few days. Some of our warehouses do not contain food items. They contain medical equipment, they contain test kits and valuable items that are very important to the COVID-19 response. Therefore, we are pleading with all those who are currently in the process of planning to attack them, to desist from doing so. It is important that our assets are protected.
“On CA-COVID, it is a private sector initiative which was set up in the early part of the response and the PTF has worked very closely with CA-COVID to deliver some of our key mandates.
“The process of distributing palliatives is integrated and also very complex. It is also important to stress that palliatives need to be distributed with the greatest urgency so that millions of struggling Nigerians recieve the economic support.
“CA-COVID has also been working with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum NGF and the FCT to procure and distribute palliatives to 11.7 million families across all 774 locals government areas in 36 states and the FCT. It started in April and is an unprecedented relief effort. The sheer scale of the food programme by CA-COVID meant that the programme had to be delivered in a staggered and controlled manner. Out of the 11.7 million supplies awarded, 11 million were confirmed to have been delivered and 17 states had 100 percent delivery in terms of the schedule and a kick off exercise was conducted. Twelve states have over 85 percent of delivery reached. Only eight states did not have a flag off or formal hand over of these commodities. Of the eight, two had 100 percent delivery reached and the process for the kick off exercise is gradually in place, whereas the remaining six states had 68 percent of delivery reached.
“Since the relief effort began with CA-COVID and the state governments in early August, official hand over of the palliatives have taken place in 28 states and the FCT and these states have been distributing at various times based on needs. It is also important to clarify that some of these state governments had actually bought their own palliatives that they are distributing.
“As of October 25th, several states had confirmed the completion of their distribution. It is therefore quiet concerning that we continue to see images of looting in the social media given all the work that has been going on and the goodwill of the private sector to support the COVID-19 response. We do understand the underlying issues, but we continue to plead with the general public to exercise restraint and allow this process to conclude”, he urged.