Of COVID-19 and public/private collaboration in FCT

August 14, 2020
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RECENTLY, there was an urgent need for a partnership never before envisaged before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Minister of the territory, Mallam Musa Bello Mohammed, needed all the help he could get in the daunting effort to curb the spread of the virus, which has claimed and continues to claim many lives across the globe.  The minister realised that there was an urgent need to device a new sensitisation and awareness strategy to combat the deadly pandemic.  And the only way to succeed in the implementation of this goal was through a partnership with the private sector and the National Orientation Agency (NOA). The minister, in his quest to succeed in this daunting but achievable task, set up a ministerial advisory committee led by Dr.Aliyu Moddibbo Umar to wage a successful campaign against the virus. It became clear that to defeat the virus, there must be urgent provision and deployment of adequate bed spaces, palliatives, medical supplies, equipment and personnel.

Due to the fact that many of the Abuja residents were living in denial during the onset of the pandemic, the task before the minister became daunting. But he deployed a strategy of defeating the spread of the virus through a partnership with the private sector, in the areas of communication and equipment. This strategy paid up with the interest shown by the private sector in the territory in joining forces with the FCT authorities to wage a common war and defeat the pandemic. The call for partnership led to the coming together of members of the Abuja private sector as a group to partner with the government. They decided to combine forces to create awareness in the territory. They also rolled out strategies to support healthcare professionals, institutions and the government through the mobilisation of funds to build capacity for hospitals. As a demonstration of commitment to the success of this partnership, the private sector built a number of well-equipped medical tents for the treatment, testing and isolation of patients. The medical tents also serve as training centres for medical personnel who after successful training are retained to serve as testing professionals.

To say the least, the private sector partnership with the government has facilitated the mobilisation of funds for Covid-19 awareness and sensitisation programmes. There has been mobilisation of funds across industries for the provision of technical and operational support. Efforts have also been focused on building advocacy through aggressive awareness drives. The private partners, in collaborating with the government, have drawn attention to the fact that the ongoing pandemic endangers our collective health, and affects social and economic institutions. They have also stressed the fact that Covid-19 also has negative psychological effects on victims and non-victims alike, and that it is important that we all join hands together to fight this collective enemy. The battle ahead, as the partnership acknowledges, is daunting.

Indeed, members of the private sector have also helped in supplementing government testing with private labs so that the waiting period will be reduced for persons who have been tested for coronavirus. The collaboration between the Abuja authorities and the private sector has really worked. It has evidently made the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic easier. This has further enhanced the position of the FCT minister that the government cannot go it alone in the fight against the deadly virus. There is now that belief in the territory that when the government sees members of the private sector as partners in progress, life becomes better for us all. The minister must be commended by all for bringing collaboration between the FCT and the private sector to life. This has enhanced the narrative that when the government accords the private sector the recognition that it deserves, it can do a lot for the betterment of the society.

Musa writes in from Abuja.

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