The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had said Northern Nigeria still stands the highest risk of the spread of COVID-19 due to the high poverty rate in the region and almost non-existent health care system.
Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, Mark Suzman, in a news conference on Thursday said, “We have worked extensively in the North because it is the poorest part of Nigeria. It does have sort of the weakest overall health infrastructure and facilities and that is also why the region has the highest child and maternal mortality rate.
“Those characteristics are shared by several African countries including in the region that is comparable to the challenges in the other parts of the Sahel and other parts of the continent.
“I don’t think there is anything sort of specific you call out other than the risks are obviously greater when you do have a very weak, underlying primary healthcare structure and system in place.”
Meanwhile, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Wednesday announced a $150m funding expansion for the global response to COVID-19 pandemic.
The donation builds on previous commitment of $100m and will be directed to international efforts to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
The foundation also called on world leaders to unite in a global response to COVID-19 to ensure equitable access to diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.
Co-Chair of the foundation, Melinda Gates, said that it is clear that the world’s response to the pandemic will not be effective unless it was also equitable.
She said, “In addition to contributing to the development of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines, these funds will support efforts against COVID-19 in low-and-middle-income countries where local leaders and healthcare workers are doing heroic work to protect vulnerable communities and slow the spread of the disease.”
The foundation said it will leverage a portion of its $2.5bn strategic investment fund, which uses a suite of financial tolls to address market failure and incentive private enterprise to develop affordable and accessible health product.
The fund will also be used to help health systems in low and middle income countries facilitate the rapid procurement of personal protective equipment for health care workers, COVID-19 diagnostic, oxygen therapeutics and other essential medical supplies.