The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), and UNICEF on Friday announced a $150 million financial guarantee to help UNICEF procure vaccines and other health-related supplies for Nigeria and other low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The financing, effective for four years through 2025, will help sustain national immunisation programmes, including COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, and enable the timely procurement of essential health supplies while domestic financing is mobilised.
In Nigeria, from January 3, 2020, to November 11, 2021, there were 212,894 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 2,922 deaths, reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO). As of November 8, 2021, 8,929,327 vaccine doses had been administered in the country.
Nigeria and other LMICs rely on UNICEF’s procurement services to secure access to affordable essential health supplies as part of their emergency response and to meet routine needs.
With the COVID-19 pandemic putting decades of work to improve child survival in jeopardy, the donors are optimistic that this new financing will help improve the sustainable and reliable availability of essential and often life-saving health supplies, such as diagnostics, syringes, and oxygen concentrators.
“The world cannot have a system in which supplies that are critical to improving the health of all people are auctioned to the highest bidder, forcing poorer countries to go without,” said Chris Elias, president of the Global Development Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
He added: “Access to diagnostics, treatments, vaccines and other essential health supplies is critical to ensuring that countries can protect their people against COVID-19 and other health threats. This financial commitment will ensure that UNICEF is well-equipped to continue procuring affordable, lifesaving tools for those most in need.”
SIDA’s director of International Organisations and Policy Support, Cecilia Scharp, added: “We at SIDA are thrilled that we can deploy innovative financing mechanisms together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to allow UNICEF to scale up their operations. (Nation)