76th UNGA: Checking Buhari’s claims on COVID-19


The President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) made numerous claims about the progress and achievements of his administration including effort made to combat COVID-19.

The FactCheckHub checked his claims in relation to COVID-19 and the country’s response.

Claim 1:

COVID-19 test Centres in Nigeria rose from 4 to 140 centres

During his speech  made on September 24, 2020 in New York, Buhari told delegates about his administration efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic which he noted was “rewarded with moderate success”.

He said “At the outset, we recognised detection and contact tracing to be important tools in combating the virus. In this connection, from a mere four laboratories with testing and detection capacities, we ramped up the facilities to over 140 centres today.”

FINDINGS : As at February 2020 when Nigeria confirmed its first case, the country had only five laboratories located in four states with the capacity to test for the virus.

However as as September 25, the testing centres have increased to 150. There are 84 COVID-19 public laboratories, 58 approved fee-based private laboratories and eight corporate laboratories. These sums up to 150.

THE VERDICT: The claim that testing and detection centre for COVID-19 ramped up to over 140 is  TRUE.

Claim 2:

Over 40, 000 health care workers trained on infection, prevention and control measures

President Buhari also noted his administration’s effort in building the capacity of health workers. He said  “in addition, over 40,000 health care workers have recently been trained on Infection, Prevention and Control measure with the support of various partners.”

FINDINGS: Media reports  indicate that over 40,000 heath workers have been trained across the country in connection to COVID-19 management, prevention and vaccination.

In August, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, told the press that  “We are currently wrapping up the training of about 40,739 health workers across the national, state and ward levels on our phase two strategic vaccine roll out plan with focus on improving the delivery, communication, data management, management of the vaccines and logistics that are needed.”

At various points since the pandemic different government officials, partners and international bodies spoke about trainings of health workers.

The National Secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Phillips Ekpe told the FactCheckHub in an interview confirmed that different categories of  health workers across the country were trained. He however could not state the exact number.

THE VERDICT: Reports indicate that over 40,000 health workers in Nigeria have been trained in various capacity. Therefore, the claim is TRUE.

Claim 3

Nigeria has established 16 infectious disease treatment centres

President Buhari also noted that the country established 16 infectious centres, He said “Through the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, we have established 16 infectious disease treatment centres located within our Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres (FMC).”

FINDINGS: The FactCheckHub reached out to the spokesperson of the NCDC, Emeka Oguano to verify the claim, but he referred to the department of hospital services at the Federal Ministry of Health, even though, the president said these centres were established through them.

Deputy Director of Information at the federal ministry of health, Segun Adetola also did not  respond when he was contacted.

In June the NCDC said it commissioned it fifth infectious disease treatment centre in 2021 while 11 more were at various stages of developments. This was during the commissioning of the facility in FMC Katsina.

In December 2020, an infectious disease treatment centre was established at FMC Keffi in Nasarawa state. Prior to that, an infectious disease centre was commissioned at the University of Abuja Teaching hospital.

A check through the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) database of emergency projects awarded for the containment and treatment of COVID-19 show that the infectious disease treatment and isolation centre at the Federal Medical Centre in Owerri, Imo State has also been completed.

THE VERDICT: The claim is TRUE. The FactCheckHub can confirm that the country has 16 infectious diseases treatment centres.

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