The Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 (PTF) has decried the continued refusal by medical institutions including federal tertiary institutions to receive and treat patients for fear COVID-19.
PTF lamented that this development has resulted in several unfortunate and avoidable fatalities.
Meanwhile, the PTF will conclude its assessment on the impact of the measures put in place and further recommendations would be submitted to the President for a decision within the next seventy hours.
Chairman of PTF and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who disclosed this at the daily Press Briefing in Abuja, noted that Nigeria is having more deaths from non-attendance to other diseases than even COVID 19 adding that the reason for the greater emphasis on COVID 19 is because it is a pandemic and if not curtailed has a capacity of wiping out large segments our population.
The SGF urged all the Chief Medical Directors and private health service providers to attend to other health challenges, which continue to confront our people on a daily basis stressing that the guidelines for dealing with patients presenting COVID 19 like symptoms are available and if these are applied by our medical service providers, there would be lesser risks of exposure to the virus
He said, “Statistics has shown that there is a drastic drop in the percentage of attention being paid to other ailments not related to COVID-19. This situation is made worse by the fact that federal tertiary institutions have been mentioned among those rejecting patients for fear of COVID. This not acceptable. We are saddened by this development. The Minister of Health has reached at to all Medical Directors directing them to continue providing regular medical services so that we do not end up with avoidable deaths. Truth be told, we are having more deaths from non-attendance to other diseases than even COVID 19. The reason for the greater emphasis on COVID 19 is because it is a pandemic and if not curtailed has a capacity of wiping out large segments our population”.
Boss Mustapha observed that go is sparing no effort in coordinating the National response, collaborating with all necessary stakeholders and supporting sub-national entities in their individual state responses, which we always maintain should be in synergy with the National Response.
He noted that this point is further underscored by the statistics coming from other parts of the world as a look at the global numbers showed that the world has recorded 5,778,551 cases and 356,722 deaths reporting from 251 countries.
The SGF said that particular note is the fact that a major nation reached the landmark of crossing beyond the 100,000 deaths in a system where the health care system is regarded as advanced adding that the shift in the epi-center from Europe and the United States of America to South America, particularly, Brazil.
“The significance of the Brazil case resides in the similarities between the Africa and South America which calls for caution. The PTF, therefore, wishes to underscore the need to press further in the development of our infrastructure, intensify our non-pharmaceutical response, the need for our citizens to comply more and for our communities to get more involved. We say again, we cannot afford to be complacent, continue as if we are not under threat, doubt the virulent nature of COVID-19 and continue to allow the virus to ravage our communities because we are fully in the community phase of the spread”.
Boss Mustapha stated that the PTF has expanded the scope of collaboration and experience sharing to the ECOWAS in line with the role of Mr President as the ECOWAS COVID 19 Champion.
He said that the interface thorough the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), will be deepened as part of the short, medium and long-term objectives for controlling the pandemic, noting that the essence of this regional effort is underscored by the huge population of Nigeria and the trade activities across the borders.
The SGF appealed to Nigerians to take the fight against COVID-19 with utmost diligence for self, family and the whole community.
Also speaking, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said that Nigeria presently has over 112 treatment and isolation centres in the 35 states and FCT with over 5,000 beds, but not all states have made it up to at least 300 beds prescribed for isolation and treatment.
Ehanire said there is need to continue increasing bed capacity to match the probable number of patients so that we do not experience horrific scenes of bed space shortages seen in some European hospitals.
He observed that in event of overflow, we can require hotels and school dormitories to be prepared for level 1 (Quarantine) and level 2 Isolation (of COVID-19 positive with zero or mild symptoms), to free hospital beds to be dedicated to level 3, (moderate to severe cases) and level 4, (high dependency and Intensive care unit) and called on philanthropists to work with State governments in concerted steps to scale up non-pharmaceutical measures and beef up infrastructural assets for isolation and treatment in their states.
The minister noted that though the country is the community transmission phase of the response, easing social restrictions is desirable, but only if we can meet up with expectations that will not allow a spike in infection rates. “This is what has led certain countries to reintroduce lockdowns. We are reviewing the health sector-specific advisories on re-opening the economy”.
Ehanire observed that global efforts to find a cure for COVID-19, in which Nigeria is participating in the WHO solidarity trial, will be reviewed by our panel of experts, as WHO suspended the trial, due to alarm raised by a Medical journal, on the safety of some drugs being tried, like hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine and their combinations.
He explained that Proposals for the trial of local remedies for the disease have been sent to the relevant research and testing agencies for scientific evaluations and that the Madagascar herbs have been received at the Ministry of Health, and were found to consist of two varieties; one labelled to be for prevention and the other for treatment.
According to him, samples of the Madagascar cure have been given to 3 Agencies of the Min. of Health which includes the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research and the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development as well as the Ministry of Science & Technology.
“These are normal processes for new preparations to be approved for use in Nigeria and include toxicological and efficacy tests and clinical trials. The government will investigate all genuine efforts to find homegrown solutions to the pandemic”, .
“Preliminary reports from the ministerial scoping missions to Kano, Katsina, Bornu, Sokoto, Cross River, Gombe allow cautious optimism, especially with regard to Kano and Bornu and also suggest that the support of experienced Federal teams has a strong stabilizing effect on State efforts. Final reports are due soon. Such an operational team will depart to Cross River State as soon as details are worked out, while a mission to Kogi will follow suit next week, as discussed with H.E. the Governor”, he added.
In his remarks, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu Samples being transported to the lab were badly packaged and licking that it made the whole efforts useless. COVIC has invested 47million on sample transportation.
He sId there is no dilemma in the two Covid-19 cases in Kogi state, stressing that laboratory test for one of the patients at the National Hospital was done following standard practice while the patient tested positive. Contacts tracing will be carried out.
Ihekweazu noted that the NCDC will publish the 11 high incidence local governments areas in the country that are responsible for 50 percent of the Covid-19 cases in the country and that will guide the actions of the government in the coming days
Director-General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO) said that the organization has not endorsed the Madagascar Herbal Cure but is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to evaluate the various claims of cure for the coronavirus disease.