As part of its continued support towards combating the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Friday, April 10, 2020, airlifted medical equipment and supplies donated by the Turkish Government to Nigeria from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos to the Nnmadi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
The donated medical items, which consist of several boxes of equipment, medications and other supplies, weighing about 4,000 Kg, were airlifted by a NAF C-130 Hercules aircraft (NAF 917) and handed over by the NAF Aircrew to a representative of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for delivery to the Central Storage Facility in Abuja.
It may be recalled that the NAF, in furtherance of its constitutional role of providing Military Aid to Civil Authority (MACA), had earlier detailed an aircraft to airlift a team of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) health officials from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, where they had travelled to undergo a World Health Organization training programme on the management of COVID-19, but became stranded due to closure of air and land borders by the Government of Congo Brazzaville.
Furthermore, the NAF airlifted some healthcare professionals from the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State to Abuja and continues to avail its aircraft for the airlifting of relief materials as well as officials of the Federal and State Ministries of Health and NCDC to enable them sustain their vital functions, said the NAF Spokesman Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola.
He also recalled that the NAF had, on March 24, 2020, airlifted medical materials consisting of 107 boxes of medical supplies and equipment donated by the Jack Ma Foundation. Moreover, the NAF, through its Liquid Oxygen Plant at the 103 Strike Group, Yola, is also producing oxygen for distribution to Isolation Centres and designated Hospitals across the Country in support of the national response to the COVID-19 emergency.
Furthermore, he noted that as regards the safety of its personnel and their families, the NAF has taken elaborate steps to deal with the COVID-19 threat.
According to him, “Since the first confirmed case in Nigeria in February 2020, the Medical Branch of the Service has undertaken a comprehensive sensitization campaign across all NAF units while emplacing necessary measures to prevent outbreak amongst personnel and their dependants. The sensitization campaign included awareness lectures on precautionary measures as well as the distribution of over 30,000 information, education and communication materials on the disease to NAF units.
“In addition, some NAF medical doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers have been mobilized as part of the 80 selected Armed Forces of Nigeria medical personnel deployed to support the Federal Government’s effort to deal with COVID-19 in Nigeria”.
He stated also, that in addition to the sensitization and training, the NAF has emplaced series of preventive measures to ensure that personnel are adequately protected whilst performing their constitutional role of defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nation.
These measures he said, include the disinfection of facilities as well as the production and distribution of large quantities of hand sanitizers by NAF medical units to personnel and their dependants, especially NAF troops on the frontlines.
“The Service has also installed hand washing facilities in all NAF units including Headquarters NAF Abuja, while all visitors and passengers boarding NAF aircraft are properly screened and the aircraft disinfected after every flight.
“Moreover, in order to ensure that NAF medical and emergency personnel get adequate protection against COVID-19, the NAF Investment Limited (NAFIL) Tailoring Workshop contacted relevant Government Agencies for the licensing of locally produced personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in NAF Hospitals. Besides, the Air Force Research and Development Centre (AFRDC) has been tasked to develop a ventilator locally to be used after certification by relevant Government Agencies”, he explained.
While commenting on the steps taken by the Service so far, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that the NAF, along with sister Services and other security agencies, would continue to mobilize its human and material resources and make available its assets to ensure that COVID-19 is defeated.
He therefore enjoined all NAF personnel to maintain prescribed personal hygiene and social distancing precautionary measures, whilst eschewing fake news and complying with all directives issued by Defence Headquarters, including staying at home, where applicable.
He noted that by banding together and complying with these precautions, the Nation would collectively overcome the challenge posed by COVID-19.