By Busayo Onijala
Lagos, Nov. 4, 2020 Airtel Nigeria has commenced the refurbishing and equipping of a four-storey infectious disease center and admission facility for use by Specialist Units in the Department of Medicine at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba.
The telecom company, which made this known in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos, said that they had announced in July, that as part of activities marking a decade of doing successful business in Nigeria, N300 million will be spent to support the fight against COVID-19.
This, the company said, is the final part of the N1.9 billion it promised in April, at the early stages of the pandemic.
Segun Ogunsanya, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria, said that N200 million will be invested in refurbishing and equipping the center.
He said “N50 million will be disbursed to the Lagos State Government to procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for Lagos State Health Workers.
“And N50 million will be invested on the procurement of a Molecular Laboratory to be provided by 54 Gene with the capacity for 300 tests per day for Ogun State.”
He stated that the company had already committed support in kind, covering donations to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Health and Port Health Authority as well as free Short Message Service (SMS) to its customers.
Acknowledging Airtel’s contribution towards the provision of PPEs for health workers, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, expressed appreciation to the company for standing to be counted during “this uncertain and critical period”.
This, he said, was just as he reiterated his administration’s commitment to fighting the pandemic as well as mitigating the impact on the people of Lagos State.
Sanwo-Olu recalled that Airtel Nigeria employees were the first employee group to make a donation of N20 million from their personal contributions which, to him, is a highly thoughtful and commendable gesture, worthy of emulation.
Commending Airtel for its support to Ogun State, the Governor of the State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said it is widely believed that the war against the pandemic could only be fought and won with “aggressive testing”.
“I wish to express our profound appreciation to your organization for magnanimously offering to support the efforts of Ogun State Government to contain the spread of COVID-19 with the procurement of a State-owned Molecular Laboratory.
“Your support will go a long way in ensuring that the state can provide continued testing for its citizenry while also building our capacity for a sustainable testing regime,” he said.
Responding to Airtel’s move in fulfilling its pledge, the Chief Medical Director at LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the telcom giants for their kind gesture.
He cited it as a significant contribution from the private sector to bolster efforts to curtail the spread of infectious diseases such as Coronavirus in the country.
“Airtel has further demonstrated its altruistic nature through this commitment, as this will not only help us combat the virus effectively but also give us a cutting-edge medical infrastructure post COVID-19.
“The ward that Airtel is currently renovating was commissioned 58 years ago under the directive of the Federal Government of Nigeria and this marks a momentous occasion in the hospital’s history.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to the management of Airtel and its stakeholders for this laudable project and I’m positive this will significantly reinforce Nigeria’s efforts in tackling the pandemic and ultimately defeating it,” he said.