Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Kathleen FitzGibbon at WRAIR Air Force PPE Handover

Good morning.  I am thrilled to be here with you all on this Air Force base, the site of a newly certified treatment center to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak here in Nigeria.  As we all know, COVID-19 has impacted the entire world.  There have been nearly 47 million cases globally, and Nigeria still remains one of the most affected countries in Africa with more than 63,000 reported cases to date.

The outbreak response in Nigeria has been holistic – publishing guidelines, establishing treatment and sample collection centers, and leveraging the existing lab infrastructure that has supported HIV patients for years.

While we all continue to face unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19, I would like to laud Nigeria’s efforts to act early to combat the virus’ spread.  Understandably, we are starting to see response fatigue.  But I encourage Nigeria to continue on its current trajectory, as an example to other nations and to prepare the country should a second COVID-19 wave hit.

The Nigerian military’s contributions to the COVID-19 response have been largely unsung.  The Ministry of Defence, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, has been closely involved in the establishment of 18 treatment centers and four sample collection centers.  This is in addition to training for laboratory and healthcare workers, testing COVID-19 samples, and providing logistical support.

Even at this treatment center where we are standing today, the military has already contributed to the national response by collecting samples and treating COVID-19 patients here in Abuja.

We are also here today to talk about support for healthcare workers who are caring for COVID-19 patients at this facility and other treatment locations across the country.

These tens of thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment donated by the DoD Africa Command will keep those healthcare workers safe.  This PPE is a testament to the continued partnership between our two militaries.

Maintaining the health and security of Nigerian citizens is of utmost importance, and the health of military members is critical to maintaining the security of the country.  The United States will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria to achieve these aims.  As we celebrate 60 years of U.S.-Nigeria diplomatic relations and 15 years of military health partnerships, the United States is proud to be your partner in improving the health, safety, and security of the Nigerian people.

Working together in partnership with the Government of Nigeria and its citizens, the American people are committed to helping Nigeria implement effective disease surveillance efforts and improve its capacity to safely treat cases as we look ahead to a pandemic-free Nigeria.  Thank you very much.