COVID-19: IMF, World Bank Spring Meetings ‘go virtual’ as Dangote pledges N200m to contain spread in Nigeria


The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on Tuesday, said their 2020 Spring Meetings slated for April 17 to April 19 in Washington D.C. would now hold in “virtual format’’.
What this meant was that instead of delegates converging physically in Washington, they would now link up from their various locations through video, audio and text channels.
The announcement came in a joint statement signed by President of the World Bank Group, Mr David Malpass, and the Managing Director of IMF, Mrs Kristalina Georgieva.
Malpass and Georgieva hinged the decision on concerns about the fast-spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the “human tragedy surrounding it’’.
Held at the World Bank and IMF headquarters in the U.S capital, the spring meetings usually brought together government officials, business leaders, representatives civil society, journalists and observers from around the world.
“Given growing health concerns related to the virus, the management of the IMF and world bank group and their Executive Boards have agreed to implement a joint plan to adapt the 2020 IMF-World Bank spring meetings to a virtual format.
“ Our goal is to serve our membership effectively,  while ensuring the health and safety of spring meetings participants and staff.
“We remain fully committed to maintaining a productive dialogue with our stakeholders and will leverage our IT-related and virtual connection capabilities to the fullest, to hold our essential policy consultations with the membership.
“We will also continue to share IMF and World Bank analyses.
“With this adapted format, we are confident that our member countries will be able to effectively engage on pressing global economic issues at these spring meetings,” they said.
Consequently, registration for all categories of participants had been suspended and all previous confirmations cancelled, the IMF said in a mail to intending participants.
“Official delegates who will participate in the official sessions will receive further instructions from the Secretary and from the office of their Executive Director of the respective institutions,’’ it added.
Meanwhile, Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) has pledged N200 million to support Federal Government’s effort at containing the spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in the country.
Ms Zouera Youssoufou, Chief Executive Officer, Aliko Dangote Foundation, in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos, said the donation was part of the Foundation’s cardinal objective.
Youssoufou said that the foundation had earmarked N124 million to support facilities that would assist prevent, assess and respond to health events at Points of Entry to ensure National Health Security.
According to her, other areas the foundation is supporting include surveillance and epidemiology, where facilities worth N36 million will be provided by the foundation to support government’s effort.
She said that the foundation would also donate N48 million for case management and training of health workers.
Youssoufou recalled that the Aliko Dangote Foundation committed about N1 billion to the fight against Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Africa.
She said that the foundation supported Nigerian government’s Ebola containment efforts through investments that built resilience and strengthened Nigeria’s health system in a manner expected to endure beyond  Ebola crisis.
According to her, the foundation during the Ebola crisis, supported government through provision of funding for the establishment of the National Ebola Emergency Operations Centre (EEOC) in Yaba, Lagos.
She said that the foundation provided 12 units of Thermal Cameras across Nigeria’s International Airports with training for 160 staff of the Federal Ministry of Health, Port Health Services, on using cameras.
Youssoufou added that the foundation provided World Health Organisation certified Personal Protective Equipment against Ebola, and also donated $3 million to support Africa Union’s intervention against Ebola in West Africa.
According to her, complete logistics support for the returnee volunteers on Ebola intervention across countries ravaged by Ebola was provided by the foundation.
Also Speaking, Ms Kathleen Whimp, World Bank, Operations Manager, identified four thematic areas to tackling the spread of COVID-19.
Whimp said the areas are; regular communication with the public, contact tracing, training of volunteers and international co-operations.
Commenting, Dr John Oladejo, Director, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, said there existed challenges in battling the outbreak.
“Inadequate isolation centres, contact tracing, training of volunteers, international cooperation, fake news and panic, were some of the challenges facing COVID-19 outbreak in the country,” he said.
COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan China on December 31, 2019, and had since spread to 64 other countries.
Nigeria on February 28 confirmed its first case of COVID-19, making it the third African country to confirm the virus.
The virus was brought into the country by an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria on Feb. 25 from Milan, Italy for a brief business visit.
The index case was confirmed on February 27, and is presently being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

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