With over N900 million already committed to the fight against the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Africa, the Dangote Foundation has again risen up to the challenges after it offered to defray the cost of quarantining the Nigeria’s returnee health worker volunteers from the Ebola ravaged countries, who arrived the country after six months in the West African countries.
The Foundation which has been playing a leading role in partnership with relevant authorities in the fight against the dreaded disease in Nigeria and the rest of Africa is expending about N60 million on the accommodation of the 200 returning volunteers delegation that travelled to support the containment effort in the Ebola infested West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The Federal government has acknowledged the enormous infrastructural and financial assistance rendered by the foremost Foundation in tackling the scourge of Ebola in Nigeria.
Director of Port Health Services, Ministry of Health, Dr. Nasiru Sani Gwarzo commended Dangote Foundation for its patriotic assistance saying “the intervention of the Dangote Foundation in the containment of the Ebola Virus is unprecedented in the history of intervention efforts in Nigeria by a single business entity.
“Dangote Foundation has foot the bill all the way through in the fight against the Ebola Disease in Nigeria. The Foundation provided 12 state of the art thermal Cameras for the airports, trained 160 staff of the federal Ministry of Health and paid for workers to manage the 200 returnees currently in our custody and spent millions more. I must say our thank you is with a difference,” Dr. Gwarzo enthused.
In his own remark, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Professor Abdulsalam Nasidi said the role of the Dangote in the containment of the Ebola Disease is immeasurable.
“We ran an emergency centre with virtually little or nothing. It was the Dangote Foundation that empowered our centre. I don’t have words to use. The Foundation provided funds for procurement of facilities to run case management, infection, prevention, control and communication which are the major response of disease control centre,” he said.
The Health Workers Team Leader, Dr. Joshua Olusegun Obasanya said the Dangote Foundation has been supporting the volunteers financially and technically, adding that the Foundation has been facilitating their integration back to the Nigerian society since their arrived the country on Sunday.
Said he; “With this kind of support the Dangote Foundation is helping to keep the Nigerian society safe. We are being camped for 21 days during which we would be monitoring ourselves.
“My message to Alhaji Aliko Dangote is that he is wonderful man. We have seen his hand in everything. I will also want him to apply the same advocacy to tuberculosis because it is also another deadly disease.”
Dr. Obasanya explained that the six months contract will lapsed on June 1, 2015, having spent five months in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
He said every volunteer was insured, adding that before the team left Nigeria, the Dangote Foundation provided immediate intervention by mobilizing human resources.
The Dangote Foundation said the latest gesture was part of its commitment to continue to partner governments at all levels to ensure African countries are rid of preventable diseases.
It would be recalled that an outbreak of Ebola last year in Nigeria had seen the Dangote foundation contributing a sum of N153 million for the establishment of the National Ebola Emergency Operations Centre (EEOC) in Yaba, Lagos and paid salaries of select staff and volunteers for six months.
Justifying the decision then, Chairman of the Foundation, Aliko Dangote said: “The national response to the unfortunate outbreak of Ebola in our country has been impressive. We have therefore decided to lend our support to the effort. The Ebola EOC is an important innovation that will strengthen our health system, even long after this particular health crisis has abated.”
Also, in the heat of the spread of the virus in Liberia and Sierra-Leone, the Foundation donated a sum of $3 million to the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust (AAEST).
The Trust was established by the African Union Commission headed by the AU chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to mobilize resources from the African private sector to fight the scourge of the Ebola Virus Disease in the three most affected West African Countries-Liberia, Guinea and Sierra-Leone.
Fielding questions from newsmen on the Foundation’s involvement in the health sector transformation, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou described the Foundation’s interventions as a swift and massive philanthropic intervention on the African continent.
The Foundation, according to her expended N66million in acquiring 12 units of state-of-the-art thermal scanning systems and cameras being used for fever scanning at Nigeria’s four international airports (Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt).
“In addition, the Foundation provided podiums for each camera and also paid for the training of 160 staff of FMOH, Port Health Services across the four airports by the vendors on the use of the thermal scanners”, Youssoufou stated.
She recalled that the Foundation also donated N26 million for the 3,800 sets of WHO-approved Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which oversees the Ebola Emergency Operations Centre.
Youssoufou pointed out that the Dangote Foundation intervened in the Nigerian government’s Ebola containment efforts through investments that built the resilience and strengthened Nigeria’s health system in a manner that would endure beyond the Ebola crisis.
The Dangote Foundation is in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate Polio in Nigeria, a partnership that has succeeded in ensuring Polio cases in some Northern states have been reduced drastically.