TOYIN ADEBAYO, ABUJA
The MInister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire hinted that the Federal Government is working with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) to finalize plans on engagement of existing community volunteers and agents to conduct house to house sensitization on COVID-19.
This, he said will be at community level, especially in high burden Local Government areas of Nigeria, since about 20 LGAs contribute nearly 60% of our COVID-19 positive cases.
He made this known at the Presidential Taskforce briefing on Covid-19 o. Tuesday in Abuja.
He further stated that, the expanding laboratory and testing capacity all over Nigeria and growing community transmission rate both contribute to the increase in the number of covid-19 positives we are observing in recent days.
According to him, “We have nevertheless not reached our testing targets as yet and therefore ask all persons who fit the case definition of fever, cough sore throat, loss of sense of smell or taste to first use a mask or face covering and find the nearest testing Center.Those testing positive should report to the nearest treatment facility in the interest of self preservation. We shall include it in our social mobilization and community engagement messaging.
“Nigeria currently has a total of 10,578 confirmed CCOVID-19 cases in 35 States and FCT, of which 3,122 have been treated successfully and released, while we have sadly recorded 299 deaths. The COVID-19 burden is, as we know not evenly distributed within the country, with Kano and Lagos bearing the highest burden. A team from the FMoH, led by the ED of NPHCDA and comprising doctors from Departments of Family Health, Hospital Services and Public Health and NCDC, is in Lagos on an appraisal visit, during which a situation analysis will be conducted. The team will also visit the contiguous Ogun State on the same mission. The visits are in continuation of similar useful initiatives in the past to Kano, Katsina Sokoto, Jigawa, Gombe, and Borno, to share experience and ideas, align strategy and support each other.
He continued: “We continue to advocate for states to strengthen their response activities and have begun a program to strengthen the capacity of all Federal Health Institutions in Nigeria to deal with COVID-19 challenges in their States by additional training, supplies and equipment. Federal Medical Center Lokoja and University of Calabar Teaching Hospital will be prioritized for deployment of Gene Xpert machines as soon as the test kits are validated by the Medical Laboratory Science Council, so that citizens in Kogi and Cross River State, among others, will no longer have shortage of opportunity to be tested. Our observation is that states are at varying levels of readiness and it is important to re-strategize to meet all citizens at their points of need. COVID-19 is long since a global phenomenon affecting nearly all parts of the world. All nations are working together and I urge all State authorities in Nigeria to accept the reality and also work with each other and Federal Government, and play their part in the strategy to keep the people safe. This includes the decentralization that requires making a minimum of 300 Isolation beds ready, so that the national health system does not run out of COVID-19 bed spaces. As the President has advised, it is best to be fully prepared even if you didn’t have to use it. In this regard, the Federal Ministry of Health stands ready to support all States in their efforts to build resilient and responsive systems for citizens in their States. The FCT, for example, is no longer under bed space pressure, having been well supported with assets to meet all levels of care, security and needs”, he explained.
Ehanire added that there will therefore be no reason for a COVID-19 positive person to be outside a designated Isolation and Treatment centre, especially with the ThisDay Dome Isolation centre ready to take cases. It will be headed in the introductory phase by the Medical Director of Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, one of the most experienced virus disease hospitals in Nigeria. The FCT managed Idu covid treatment centre with 500 beds is also ready.
They have conducted an analysis of Health Care Worker Infections and identified critical areas for targeted intervention, to include continuous updates and retraining. More than 13,000 health workers have been trained, which will result in reduced rate of infection, especially in the line of duty. We are collaborating with States to cascade the training to lower cadre workers, he stated.
His words: “A few weeks ago, I announced that Nigeria will participate in COVID-19 drug trial, which the WHO was leading but partly suspended. After consultation with top Nigerian scientists of the Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee, I am advised that Nigeria has something to add to the body of knowledge around these trials. I have therefore approved continuation of the trial, as recommended, under strong precautionary conditions to be built into it. The Leadership of the Ministry also had the first briefing with the Ministerial Advisory Panel of Experts yesterday, led by foremost virologist, Prof. Tomori, and received a series of very useful advisories that will be discussed and shared with Heads of Agencies and Departments of the Ministry”
He, however, advised that, as we move into the next phase of easing of the lockdown, I urgently call on all, to take responsibility for ensuring that we actively play our role in ensuring that COVID-19 does not spike or bounce up, as has been observed in many countries where lockdown was relaxed. It is important to bear in mind that this phase, more than the lockdown itself, is in the hands of the people, more than in the hand of government. We must fight the spread of the disease by adhering more strictly than ever, to the various social guidelines which have been announced, published and publicized.
He also urged Nigerians to wear their face mask in the public, once you leave your house, or even inside your house, if you are not sure of the COVID-19 status of people you live with. Wear your mask on your face, not under your chin; it has no value under your chin. Be very sensitive about respiratory hygiene, wash hands regularly, use sanitizers and observe physical distancing. Open your windows to let in fresh air when