With the recent increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Kano State, Nigeria, the Country Director for Plan International Nigeria (PIN), Hussaini Abdu, has penned a memo to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano.

In his memo, Abdu pointed out the significant risk the spike in Covid-19 cases in the state puts the rest of northern Nigeria and neighbouring West and Central African countries, given the fact that Kano is a key economic hub in the region.

In this light, Abdu listed a number of challenges the state faces as it combats the virus, including poor community awareness, denial, and ignorance of Covid-19; state-centric and uncoordinated response; state to society trust deficit; limited public health facilities and personnel; increasing attrition of health service providers; overwhelming informal economy, poverty and exclusion; and, the politicisation of response.

Abdu further recommended initiatives that could help bring responses on track in addition to the efforts from the federal government and the private sector, initiatives such as increasing community awareness and sensitisation, for which the state government should set up a non-partisan, ward-level committees that should be made up of traditional rulers, religious leaders, senior civil servants, youth groups, women and girls to serve as community interface with the state response team and officials of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Abdu also recommended that both state and local governments should repurpose their 2020 budgets by converting funds for non-essential projects to fund the response to the Covid-19 crisis. He said that the priorities of the state and local governments in repurposing their budgets should include establishing laboratories, setting up isolation centres, procurement of ambulances and operational vehicles to enhance mobility, and investing in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Other recommendations by Abdu included the government, humanitarian organisations, and charitable individuals investing more in poor people, whose income and livelihoods cannot sustain them in the current pandemic; reconstituting the state response team to include civil society groups and working with the civil society networks to deepen public accountability and rebuild public trust; government coordinating contact tracing and interstate movements closely with neighbouring states.

Abdu urged the government to consider these recommendations and to take the necessary action to reverse the current trend of Covid-19 and save the state from a humanitarian catastrophe.

Source: Hussaini Abdu

Photo source: Plan International Nigeria

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