Nigeria's Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on Wednesday headed to Twitter to beg the founder of the electronic automobile company, Tesla Inc., Elon Musk, for ventilators.
The official handle of the ministry responded to a tweet by the South African-American billionaire to supply ventilators to hospitals worldwide.
"We have extra FDA-approved ventilators. Will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse. Please me or
@Tesla know," had tweeted.
We have extra FDA-approved ventilators. Will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse. Please me or @Tesla know.
- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 31, 2020
The verified handled of the Ministry of Finance had subsequently replied that the government was in need of between 100 - 500 ventilators.
"Dear @elonmusk @Tesla Federal Government of Nigeria needs support with 100-500 ventilators to assist with #Covid19 cases arising every day in Nigeria."
There is a global scrambling for ventilators following the outbreak of the coronavirus. The coronavirus pathogen particularly affects the respiratory organs then the need for ventilators to treat the critically sick. Countries like the United States and China have ramped up the manufacture and supply of ventilators to deal with the growing cases of the disease in their countries.
Though the exact number of ventilators in Nigeria is unknown, the number of functional ones in the country is estimated to be under 100. As the number of coronavirus patients in the country continues to grow, there are concerns that the number of fatalities from the virus in the country may be above the global average because of inadequate ventilators.
On Tuesday, the health minister, Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria may not need many ventilators for her coronavirus patients. On Wednesday, Akin Abayomi, the Lagos State commissioner for health, told journalists that none of the active cases in the state required a ventilator,
Despite advice from the World Health Organisation and African Union for countries to dedicate between 13 and 15 per cent of their national budgets to the provision of healthcare, the Nigerian government has continued to budget far less.
The government budgeted a paltry 4.5 per cent of its 2020 budget to health. A marginal increase from 4.1 per cent in 2019 and 3.95 per cent in 2018.
"Who approved this tweet?"
The ministry's appeal for help from the billionaire has drawn a lot of angry reactions from Nigerians, many of who have described it as cringeworthy and embarrassing.
Others wondered why the ministry decided to do this via social media rather than exploring available diplomatic and official channels.
"Who approved this tweet?" asked Uncle Dave with the handle @ebonyslim.