April is rounding up but there is not a dearth of interesting developments where covid-19 is concerned in Nigeria. It will interest you to know that some countries are contemplating making covid-19 vaccination a requirement before anyone can travel internationally.
The number of newly infected persons have continued to drop weekly in all states of the country as stats from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) show. From April 14 to 20, the centre for disease control recorded only 423 cases of the virus. This is lesser than the 523 people confirmed the previous week.
Here are the developments for this week.
WHO says vaccination should not be required for international travel
The World Health Organization (WHO) has discouraged the move of some countries to add proof of vaccination for the covid-19 as a prerequisite for international travel.
Countries do not have equitable access to the vaccines yet and this means that some regions will have a lesser percentage of their population valid for international travel than others. The vaccines have also not been proven to stop the spread of the virus on a large scale, according to the WHO.
“States Parties are strongly encouraged to acknowledge the potential for requirements of proof of vaccination to deepen inequities and promote differential freedom of movement.’’
The global health body instead asked countries to prioritize seafarers and aircrews in line with the joint statement on prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers and aircrew.
Nigeria and France lose $2.2 bn in bilateral trade
France’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Mr Franck Riester, said in a meeting with industry leaders in Abuja that Nigeria and his country lost over $2.2 billion in bilateral trade in 2020. In 2019, the two countries carried out trade worth $4.5 billion while only $2.3 billion was done in 2020.
The trade loss was due to the movement restrictions placed on both countries as part of efforts against the spread of the covid-19.
Riester highlighted France’s readiness to help in Nigeria’s fight against insecurity as well as contribute to the development of the healthcare sector in many states of the country. He added that his country will make an investment of over $50 million in healthcare in Oyo State alone.
Health sector to get N100Bn fund from SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will be providing an impact fund of N100 billion for the health sector. This was announced by the Director-General of the commission, Mr Lamido Yuguda, at the 2021 post-Capital Market Committee conference in Abuja on Thursday.
The fund is expected to contribute towards the recovery of the nation’s economy by focusing on healthcare assets.
As a result, this Strategic Health Impact Fund for Transformation (SHIFT) will strengthen the country’s response to health-related emergencies. It will also equip the sector with more assets to provide healthcare services to the populace.
Recall that the country plunged into a recession after an extended lockdown was initiated in March 2020. Still, the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s All Share Index was judged by Bloomberg as the best-performing in 2020.
The fund is to ensure that the country is better positioned to fight the covid-19 and prevent a negative turnaround for the economy.
Budgit laments lack of transparency in covid-19 funds management
The open treasury platform, launched by the Buhari administration in 2019, does not comprehensively describe how the covid-19 funds were used as it is supposed to, according to the civic advocacy organization, Budgit.
Budgit disclosed this in a COVID-19 fund management report titled “COVID-19 Fund: Fiscal Support, Palliative Analysis and Institutional Response”.
The report examined the support received by the government from both private and international institutions, including the $5.6 billion received as donations, grants, and relief support.
Also Read: Meet Gabriel Okeowo, the New CEO of BudgIT
It also looked at concerns about intervention programmes from private coalitions like the CACOVID, a private coalition of donors and corporate funders. The coalition received donations totalling N21.5bn, according to PROSHARE. The government has also disbursed about N288 billion from the N500 billion covid-19 fund.
However, the budgit report says, “As of the time of our report, comprehensive details of disbursed funds have not been published on the Open Treasury platform. This further establishes our concerns about the lack of a proper framework for COVID-19 fund accountability in Nigeria.”
Bishop Oyedepo disapproves of covid-19 vaccine
Vaccination is underway in many states in Nigeria and over 1 million people have already been inoculated in the country. However, there are still people who have expressed their disapproval of the vaccines and Bishop David Oyedepo is one of them.
The cleric is the Presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church Worldwide (a.k.a Winners’ Chapel). He said he had never seen “a generation where people are forced to take vaccines.”
“How? One woman just got down after that injection in Kaduna. What kind of life? Are human beings now turned to guinea pigs? The world is confused but the church is lighted. So the triumph of the church will humble the pride of the world. They don’t know what to do sir. In the last days, the church will be reigning in power and glory. That is God’s agenda.”
As opinions differ on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, governments may have a say in helping some people decide if vaccination status eventually becomes a priority for international travel around the world.