COVID – 19 has so far disrupted the social norm and contract around the world. There has been disruption in sources of livelihoods, access to education etc. most especially in countries with high poverty incidence rate in Sub Saharan Africa.
It has therefore, become imperative for both Federal and State Governments in Nigeria to ensure and put into consideration Protection issues like Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the palliative and government response measures.
There is likely to be an increase in the rate of domestic violence due to economic stress and forced co-existence. Government agencies responsible need to be proactive in ensuring reduction in household tensions through mass community awareness and follow up. This need synergy with local traditional institutions.
Accordingly, men and women may be unable to access their livelihood due to fear of stigmatization, lock down or movement restriction. When food becomes scarce in an emergency like the COVID – 19, it may force households to engage in negative strategies to cope like consuming less food which can lead to other health complications.
In addition, there is clear need to regulate and coordinate the response to mitigate both fraud and the risk of abuse and exploitation in responding to the situation by many actors.
Consequently, the decision by the Government to support the school feeding program is a welcome development as it will ensure even with the disruption in classes and learning as a result of the closures, there is a reliability in source of food for many children.
Interestingly, of utmost importance for inclusion in the COVID – 19 response planning and palliative measures are the diverse / vulnerable group like older people, people with disabilities and those with underlying diseases. The diverse / vulnerable groups are clearly at risk of both social exclusion and isolation at home – and may be increasingly so in this period. Such groups may be difficult to reach with both support and information, especially in remote areas.
Nevertheless, the women health care providers in the front line working to save lives need to participate and be part of the leadership of the response and coordination to ensure inclusion and diverse views and input.
Finally , those coordinating the response should consider : barriers to accessing information by diverse / vulnerable groups – Ensure and information is tailored to diverse / vulnerable groups – And ensure the existence and strengthening of referral pathways especially the location of health facilities and hotlines for prompt communication.