Niger's Private Sector Mobilizes Funds and Supplies to Support the COVID-19 Response
Since the announcement of the first official case of COVID-19 in Niger on March 19, 2020, the country has recorded 980 confirmed cases and 66 deaths as a result of the virus. Unlike the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that occurred between 2014 and 2016—for which international donors financed the bulk of the epidemic response—the response to COVID-19 demands domestic resource mobilization come from within the affected countries. Without action by African health systems, it is estimated that several million Africans could fall into extreme poverty. Approximately 20 million jobs are at risk in Africa due to the pandemic.
It is against this backdrop that Niger announced the creation of a COVID-19 response fund. Already, it is an initiative that is garnering multisectoral collaboration. Among the many partners who have stepped into support response efforts is the Bank of Africa (BOA) Foundation in Niger. The BOA Foundation first became involved in collaboration with the Niger Ministry of Health after participation in a workshop held in Dakar, Senegal, in August 2018, organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Health Policy Plus (HP+) project.
In May, HP+ conducted an analysis of available equipment and supplies required to fight COVID-19 in Niger’s capital, Niamey. The analysis, which was validated by the Regional Health Department, pointed to the need for an increase in hygiene supplies to effectively combat the pandemic. As a result, the BOA Foundation provided handwashing kits to 20 health facilities in the city. The kits include bulk amounts of soap and medical gloves for use by health facility personnel to guard against virus spread within healthcare centers. The handwashing kits, which are valued at more than one million CFA (approximately US$1,700), are in addition to the 373 million CFA (approximately US$640,000) already granted by the Association of Banks and other financial establishments to the Nigerien government to aid in its pandemic response.
The donation was made by BOA Foundation representative Ibrahim Dandéré on May 19, 2020, during a visit to a health facility in Niamey managed by the Regional Directorate of Public Health. At an accompanying event, Executive Secretary of the BOA Foundation in Niger Fati Harouna said that the donation reflects the commitment of the private sector to support Niger’s health authorities and the people of Niamey during this unprecedented time.