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Handover of AFRICOM-Supported COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment to the Nigerian Military
The United States Department of Defense (DoD), through the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worth $144,000 to support COVID-19 prevention in military and civilian medical facilities in Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Akwa-Ibom, and Cross River states. Ceremonial handover these PPEs to the Nigerian military took place on November 5, 2020, at 063 Nigerian Air Force Hospital (NAFH) in Abuja. Presiding over the event was the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Alhaji Babangida Hussaini, and the U.S. Charge d’Affaires, Kathleen FitzGibbon.
063 NAFH was inaugurated as a COVID-19 treatment centre by the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ohanire, in June 2020. It is the primary military COVID-19 isolation and treatment center in Abuja, and has actively contributed to the national response by admitting, treating, and releasing patients with COVID-19. It has long served as a medical treatment facility for infectious and non-infectious disease, and is part of the network of military sites offering comprehensive HIV care and treatment to both military and civilians.
The event on November 5 was spearheaded by the Nigerian Ministry of Defence (NMOD) Health Implementation Programme (MODHIP). MODHIP has served the implementation arm of the NMOD COVID-19 response, and has worked jointly with the Armed Forces COVID-19 Committee, the Nigerian Centers of Disease Control, the Nigerian Tuberculosis and Leprosy Center and multiple United States government agencies to support the mitigation of the pandemic in Nigeria. NMOD, with support from the U.S. DoD, has contributed the national response by establishing 18 treatment sites and four COVID-19 sample collection sites, and training over 150 health personnel on COVID 19 case management and infection prevention and control. The Defence Reference Laboratory (DRL) in Abuja, co-staffed by NMOD and DoD, has also been actively involved in the COVID-19 efforts, and is a key contributor to the national testing network. As of November 1, 2020, DRL has tested more than 7500 COVID-19 samples, mostly from FCT (NNPC), Nassarawa, Enugu, and Imo states, though its coverage is open to all labs across the federation.
The contribution from the DoD is emblematic of the longstanding partnership between the US and Nigerian militaries, and is another component of the more than $57 million in support provided by the U.S. Government to the COVID-19 response in Nigeria. Highlighting this support during the pandemic and the more than 60 years of diplomatic relations between the US and Nigeria, the U.S Charge d’Affaires in her remarks, “it is deeply satisfying for me to look back on the many ways we have worked together to improve the health, safety and security of the Nigerian people. Supporting the health of military members is critical to maintaining the security of the country, and we, the U. S. Government, will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with you to achieve these aims.”