TOYIN ADEBAYO, ABUJA
The MInister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has hinted that the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria have evaluated only four of the antibody-based test kits in Nigeria
and all four failed the validation tests.
While adding that, no antigen test kits has yet been evaluated. This means that results obtained from these tests are not tenable for diagnostics, being deficient in sensitivity and specificity and are likely to give false results and mislead people.
He further stated that, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) certified laboratories in Nigeria uses WHO recognized PCR testing methods which give reliable result. Though expensive, this option is right and we have 30 laboratories deployed, with the aim of establishing at least one laboratory in every state.
Ehanire gave this hint on Thursday at the Presidential Taskforce briefing on Covid-19, saying, Nigeria currently has a total of 11,166 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 35 States and FCT, of which 3,329 have been treated successfully and discharged, while we have sadly recorded 315 deaths.
He further stated that , the daily epidemic curve of confirmed cases shows a consistently rising trajectory with corresponding increase in fatalities, but nothing comparable with what is observed in some foreign countries. To rest on our oars for that reason, would be a serious mistake.
According to him;” Covid is real and we have explained that the increase in cases is due to improving testing capacity and of activities of other response pillars, such as surveillance, community mobilization, coordination, contact tracing improved awareness, the demographics and other factors.
“The team deployed to Lagos and Ogun States, led by the ED of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal, has returned, with optimism about having gained a better insight into state-specific challenges and gaps. They had audience with the Executive Governors,visited the State EOCs and exchanged ideas with the State Health teams. A full report of findings will be ready next week.
“The Federal Ministry of Health team to Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa Bornu, Katsina, Gombe will submit their final report tomorrow. Preliminary reports show that the goals of the intervention were met”, explained.
Ehanire stressed that, “On Tuesday June 2nd, I had the privilege of chairing a virtual meeting of the Ecowas covid-19 Ministerial Coordination Committee on Health, hosted by the West African Health Organization WAHO and attended by 15 Ecowas Ministers of Health or their representatives. This is one of three Committees, the others being on Finance and Transport, set up to facilitate the work of the Ecowas covid-19 response champion, H.E President Muhamadu Buhari, who was elected into this role on April 23, 2020, at a virtual meeting of Ecowas Heads of State and Governments. The meeting compared notes, discussed matters of regional cooperation and collaboration around the covid-19 strategy and response, border-related challenges on movement of people and goods when borders are reopened. WAHO & Nigeria are presently working together on a cost-sharing plan for a common air transport plane to convey covid-19 supplies of WAHO and Nigeria from Beijing to Abuja.
He continued: ” I also had the honour of presenting the statement of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari at a virtual Global Vaccine Summit this afternoon, hosted by UK Prime Minister Mr. Boris Johnson, the purpose of which, was to mark 20 years since GAVI was founded, and also to raise funds to support its activities.
“Just as we continue to engage States, we shall continue to engage community, religious and traditional leaders for sustained messaging to citizens, on the importance of adhering to health advisories, to combat community spread. I again emphasize that much at this stage depends on a trust-based partnership between government and the people, to faithfully obey the rules on covid-19 laid down for our own good”, the minister buttresed.
Ehanire hinted that, support to States will be tailored to challenges and strengths of State health systems. The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency is discussing options and guidelines of supervised out-of-hospital isolation and care with some States, which is either home-based care or based in communal space, like school dormitories, since schools are presently closed down.
As we continue to engage states on scaling up sample collection and testing capacity all over Nigeria, we also continue to urge healthcare workers to ensure they are properly protected with the appropriate PPE’s and have a high index of suspicion when treating patients.
He, however, urged Nigerians to wear your face mask at all times in the public, or even inside your house, if you are not sure of the COVID-19 status of people you live with. Observe respiratory hygiene, wash hands regularly, use sanitizers and observe physical distancing.