United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) on Thursday announced it was deploying $14 million or 5 billion Nigerian naira through the UBA Foundation to combat COVID-19 in 20 African countries.
“This is a time when we must all play our part. This global epidemic must bring citizens, governments and business leaders together – and quickly. As we see a rapidly increasing number of cases of the coronavirus in Nigeria and Africa, the private sector has to work hand in hand with various Governments, in stemming the spread of the global pandemic,” said UBA Group Chairman Tony O. Elumelu.
“We commend the efforts of governments and we are keen to partner and contribute our resources to the collective effort, that will ensure the response to the pandemic is swift and effective,” Elumelu added.
The Bank said the donation will provide significant and much needed support to Nigeria and 19 other African countries by supplying relief materials, critical care facilities, and financial support to governments.
The respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 70 people across Africa with the level of infections skyrocketing above 2000 in the past few days.
Despite the small number of cases compared with other parts of the world, WHO has warned Africa to prepare for the worst.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told African nations that stopping the spread of the coronavirus and preventing a sinister outcome was in “their hands”.
“The first thing they should believe is that this thing is in their hands, they can do something to stop it as early as possible,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said at his three-time a week press conference from Geneva.
“The number of cases in Sub-Saharan Africa is around 1600 as we speak,” he said, describing the low number as an “opportunity” that should be used to stop the spread of the virus before things get out of hands.
He said African nations should use that opportunity to stop the spread of the virus by deploying their health care and public health workforce, testing more people, isolating those who test positive, identifying, adapting and equipping facilities to use to treat and isolate patients among other things.
The UBA support program will be allocated as follows:
N1 billion (USD2.8 million) to Lagos State Government in Nigeria
N500 million (USD1.4 million) to Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
N1 billion (USD2.8 million) to the remaining 35 states in Nigeria
N1.5 billion (USD4.2 million) to UBA’s presence countries in Africa
N1 billion (USD2.8 million) for Medical Centres with equipment and supplies
Free Telemedicine call centre facility
The pan-African bank said it will fund a medical centre immediately in Lagos, Nigeria, with beds for isolation and ICU facilities, managed and operated in partnership with Heirs Holdings’ healthcare subsidiary, Avon Medical Hospital.
In addition, UBA is providing a free telemedicine platform that is physician-led to provide direct access to medical advice to citizens, in compliance with social distancing requirements.
Operating in 20 African countries and globally in the United Kingdom, the United States and France, the United Bank for Africa has a strong record of supporting its communities, through challenging times.