A civil society network, Non-Commumicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance Nigeria, says the country will benefit from the $300,000 (about N109, 500,000) First Civil Society Solidarity Funds on NCDs and COVID-19.
Dr Kingsley Akinroye, the Vice President, Scientific Affairs, NCD Nigeria, made the disclosure at a news conference on Tuesday in Lagos.
Akinroye said that most of the casualties of COVID-19 pandemic were people living with NCDs.
According to him, 20 civil society alliance from Africa, Asia, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Latin America, including NCD Alliance Nigeria, have been awarded grants to accelerate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the fund was announced on Monday by the NCD Alliance in Geneva during a high-level online meeting.
Akinroye quoted the President of the NCD Alliance, Mr Todd Harper, as saying that the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic showed many intersections between COVID-19 and NCDs.
“People Living With Non-Communicable Diseases (PLWNCDs) are more vulnerable to COVID-19, with a substantial higher risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the virus.
“The pandemic is also impacting the poorest communities around the world and the most vulnerable people in every country.
“The civil society fund was borne out of the need to tackle NCDs as fundamental to health security and to prevent a reversal of gain made in NCD prevention and control around the world.”
Akinroye said that in Nigeria, NCDs accounted for 29 per cent deaths in the population of over 205, 808, 201 people.
According to him, the actions taken to control NCDs in Nigeria include the launch of the First Multi-sectoral Action Plan for Prevention and Control of NCDs (2019-2025) by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).
He added that the action included the NCD Alliance Nigeria publication of Handbook on Civil Society Organisation in NCDs in 2018.
The vice president noted that as at Monday, the number of COVID-19 cases comfirmed in Nigeria was 32, 558 with 740 deaths.
“Majority of the affected people above the age of 60 had co-morbidities ascribed to NCDs, especially cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
” Available data indicates that more males are affected than females, and most of the affected individuals are between ages of 31-40.
“The fund totalling $300,000 will competitively award grants of up to US$15,000 (about N5,475,000) to national and regional NCDs alliances to support them in addressing the critical needs of the people living with NCDs during COVID-19.
” This will be via advocacy and communication activities that will support stronger organisational stability and resilience,” Akinroye said.
He added that the activities in Nigeria would include development of database of PLWNCDs in Lagos, Osun, FCT, and Enugu, adding that NCD area of focus would be cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, sickle cell disease, respiratory disease and mental health.
Akinroye said that the alliance would also establish and support PLWNCDs with skills and knowledge and connect them to the NCDs Alliance, FMOH, World Health Organisation (WHO) and ministry of health in the three states and FCT.
He added that the group would engage in capacity building for PLWNCDs lead champions from the three states and FCT on advocacy for their rights to health, prevention, access to treatment and care.
The vice president added: “Further more, NCD Alliance Nigeria will develop a directory and a database of PLWNCDs in the states.
“We are going to develop advocacy communication materials targeting lawmakers, policy makers and opinion leaders that are persuasive and effective to improve prevention, care and access to treatment for PLWNCDs.
“We are going to establish an editorial board among PLWNCDs to provide content and guidance for a functional e-platform for PLWNCDs to disseminate information and network with members of PLWNCDs association, members of the public, policy makers and lawmakers.
“This project intends to create an effective advocacy forum for PLWNCDs to advocate policies and actions to promote continuity, access to treatment and care, adequate health promotion, ability to secure access to healthy food and drink during and after COVID-19.”
Akinroye, who commended the efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Nigeria, urged the government to put more money into information dissemination, research, treatment and care of PLWNCDs to reduce COVID-19 casualties.
According to him, given the vulnerabilities of COVID-19 to PLWNCDs, it is key to ensure a vibrant and strong NCD civil society that can elevate voices of the community, advocate health policy reform and hold government and stakeholders accountable.