The United States government says it is working on fulfilling its promise to send ventilators to Nigeria as part of its assistance to help the country contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Mary Leonard, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, said during a telephonic press conference with Nigerian journalists Tuesday that President Muhammadu Buhari had requested ventilators at a recent meeting with his American counterpart, Donald Trump.
“We already have a very robust U.S. government financial and tactical response to COVID, the two presidents talked in particular about what other equipment needs we might be able to address,” Ms Leonard said.
“In particular there is a talk about ventilators, and so there is a national security council and USAID group back in Washington that is working on fulfilling that request.”
In April, Nigeria’s information minister, Lai Mohammed, revealed that Mr. Trump during a phone call with President Buhari promised to send the ventilators to support Nigeria’s fight against the virus.
“I don’t have an arrival date or specifics about it,” Ms. Leonard said during Tuesday’s press conference.
Ms Leonard also said the U.S. financial assistance to Nigeria for the fight against COVID -19 is now $32.8 million
She said the figure is part of the about $237 million the U.S. had spent in Africa during the pandemic.
“In Nigeria, that’s up to $32.8 million, there’s more in the pipeline, almost a comparable sum as we think about the different ways that we can partner with Nigeria.
“This, of course, is in addition to our regular assistance portfolio here which tends to be very heavily weighted towards health, whether PEPFAR or maternal/child health or other things.”
Ms Leonard noted that over the years, of the more than $8 billion the United States has given to Nigeria, $5.2 billion of that had gone to the health sector.
“The support we’ve been giving to COVID is a lot in the health sector, but it’s not only the health sector, we are dealing with economic impacts and other things.
“And worldwide I think we estimate that the U.S government is spending about $2.4 billion on COVID response. If you add in the U.S private and philanthropic sector, universities, faith-based organisations, charitable organisations, NGOs the total is almost three times that it’s $6.5 billion.”