The Federal Government is to engage community volunteers on house-to-house sensitisation on the dangers and spread of COVID-19. Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja, at the Presidential Taskforce (PTF), briefing on COVID-19. The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), reports that Nigeria currently has 10,578 confirmed CCOVID-19 cases in 35 States and FCT, of which 3,122 have been treated and discharged. NAN reports that Nigeria recorded 299 deaths. Ehanire said that the ministry was working with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, (NPHCDA) to finalise plans on the engagement of existing community volunteers and agents to conduct house to house sensitisation on COVID-19 at the community level. He said that this would be done in “high burden” Local Government areas of Nigeria, since about 20 LGAs contribute nearly 60 per cent of the COVID-19 positive cases. “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 said. The minister said that the ministry would 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.
He said that the Federal Medical Centre Lokoja and University of Calabar Teaching Hospital would be prioritized for the deployment of Gene Xpert machines as soon as the test kits were validated by the Medical Laboratory Science Council. He said this so that residents in Kogi and Cross River, among others, would no longer have a shortage of opportunity to be tested. “Our observation is that states are at varying levels of readiness and it is important to re-strategise 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,” he said. He, however, said that as the President advised that it was best to be fully prepared even if Nigerians do not have to use it. “ In this regard, the FMOH 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 said. Ehanire said that there would, 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. He noted that it would 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. He also said the FCT managed Idu COVID-19 treatment centre wih 500 beds ready. He, however, said that the FMOH 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. “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 the continuation of the trial, as recommended, under strong precautionary conditions to be built into it,” he said. According to him, the leadership of the Ministry also had the first briefing with the Ministerial Advisory Panel of Experts on Monday and received a series of very useful advisories that will be discussed and shared with Heads of Agencies and Departments of the Ministry. “Finally, 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 advised. He urged Nigerians to wear their face mask in the public, once they leave their house, or even inside their house if they were not sure of the COVID-19 status of people they 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 whenever it is safe to do so,” he said. Credit: NAN