Lagos, May 14, 2020: The Institute of Social Work of Nigeria with chapters across Nigeria, in a statement released to the Press in Lagos has called for sub-regional and International collaboration, if the threat that the novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) poses to global supply chains and economies must be scaled back and finally contained.

According to the Institute Executive Secretary, the outbreak of COVID-19 has paralyzed social interaction, economic, commercial and religious activities across the nation and has ultimately led to the Federal Government issuing an order to restrict movement of people across interstate borders throughout Nigeria. In high risk states like Lagos, Ogun, Kano and Abuja, a dawn to dusk curfew has been added to the mix of restrictions aimed at controlling community infection.

A collateral damage from the compulsory quarantine or stay at home order, which aims at isolating infected persons and degrading spread of the pandemic has been the widely reported breaches of individual and constitutional rights of citizens by law enforcement officers, which in some cases has led to fatalities.

Easing of the lockdown has led to a rise in infection and mortality rates in many states, especially in Borno and Kebbi states. The recent spike in Kaduna state has compelled the state government to extend the lockdown for another full month while structures are emplaced to ramp up testing capacity and create bed space to treat infected persons in isolation centres.

Thankfully, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which is one of the tripods coordinating Federal Government’s response to COVID-19, has exhibited considerable dexterity in advocacy, information and communication management through the daily briefings by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, as well as regular national/ global infection and mortality figures update, safety and preventive protocols which is predicated on taking personal action and responsibility; better hygiene practices (washing hands frequently), wearing of protective face masks when visiting public places, regular use of hand sanitizers and social distancing.

The devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic to social cohesion and economic activities has exposed the painfully vulnerable underbelly and comatose state of Nigeria’s healthcare services. In spite of Federal Government’s best efforts at controlling this pandemic, the appalling inadequacy of test kits (which has left Nigeria with the least number of tests per capita in Africa), the shoddy isolation centres (which have relatively improved with the incessant outcry from the general public and subsequent involvement of the private sector, especially in Lagos state) and the gross inadequacy of social safety nets in the form of palliatives to the most vulnerable families and financial support for businesses is indicative that a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s healthcare legislation and infrastructure, which has been in a state of neglect by successive governments is now or never as evidenced in the conscious effort from Government and her appendages to write the wrong and reposition systems!

To this end, The Institute of Social of Nigeria, calls for sub-regional and international collaboration, if the threat Covid-19 poses to global supply chains and economies must be scaled back and finally contained. The international scientific community must share intelligence and data to expedite efforts at vaccine development and treatment options, without which, the virus shall continue to devastate humanity.

The institute is committed to ensuring that every laid out plan by government and statutory Agencies saddled with the responsibility to lead the fight are well complemented by efforts from our team of experts. We are carefully engaging the public tactfully with an average of 3600 field workers as volunteers spread across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Specific to this assignment is our well structured plan which sees our social and community welfare experts leading on the frontline of sensitization and enterprise training in the production of Hand Sanitizers and face mask using the international standard recipe and pattern as prescribed by World Health Organization.

Finally, we laud the efforts and immense sacrifices being continuously made by front line workers; Nurses, Doctors and Medical staff in the battle to combat the monstrous invasion of COVID-19 pandemic. All tiers of government must ensure that the welfare and remuneration of these heroes are given priority attention, and must escalate advocacy efforts to ensure that citizens take ownership of and responsibility for their own protection against spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Mrs Kemi Ottun
Executive Secretary