FMoH convenes emergency National Council of Health (NCH) Meeting

Federal Ministry of Health

The Federal Ministry of Health has convened an Emergency National Council of Health (NCH) meeting, via teleconference, where State Commissioners of Health and the Acting FCT Secretary for Health, had been engaged to review status and align all response to COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

The Honorable Minister for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made this known at the Presidential Task Force briefing today 22nd April, 2020, when he disclosed that 782 people in 24 states and the FCT had been confirmed to have COVID-19. He stated that the 117 new cases represent the highest daily increase in new cases so far and is an indication of more efficient testing and increased community transmission. He added that the most affected States are: Lagos 59, FCT 29, Kano 14, Borno 6, Ogun 3, Katsina 4, and 1 in Bauchi and Rivers. A total of 25 deaths had been recorded while 197 people are been discharged.

Dr. Ehanire further enumerated some of the resolutions unanimously adopted at the National Council of Health meeting

· All persons diagnosed with covid-19 be henceforth treated in the State where the diagnosis was made, rather than be referred to their States of origin except there is a medical indication to the contrary. This is to avoid the high risk of exposure of other persons in the course of transfer.

· Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) and Pharmacists be forthwith prohibited from attempting to treat persons diagnosed as, or suspected to be COVID-19 patients, or else have their operating licenses cancelled.

· Private hospitals desiring to manage COVID-19 patients apply to their State Ministries of Health for permit, meet standard IPC standards and be accredited by a FMoH certified State team after compliance with Protocols, before being granted;

· States should notify FMoH of their isolation and treatment centers for inclusion on the COVID-19 HMIS Platform to ensure a well-coordinated national response.

Health Minister informed that 27 Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) had been deployed to states by NCDC to support the COVID-19 response, recently to Abia, Gombe and Sokoto States. He said active case finding is ongoing in communities with evidence of person-to-person transmission, stating also that the strategy required more testing and diagnostics. He stated also that, “we are working to increase the capacity and activate additional laboratories, both public and private for COVID-19 testing, with the final purpose of having one or more public health laboratories, with PCR capability in every State”.

Dr. Ehanire reminded citizens that COVID-19 had a cure rate of over 90%, if those with typical symptoms report early for testing and treatment or quarantine. “It can save you from the severe complications of the infection, or also help to reduce spread and save your loved ones from getting infected by you”, he said. He stated also that those with existing medical conditions like diabetics, hypertension, kidney disease, TB, HIV, and cancer, should obey the injunctions for preventing infection.

According to the Honorable Minister, to ensure best treatment options for Nigerians, a protocol for a Patient Transport System had been developed for FCT and to be set up in all States of the Federation. This he said is meant to smoothly convey patients to specialized treatment centers or between centers, hinting also that, the Nigeria Airforce and NEMA have standby aircrafts.

Health Minister applauded health worker on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and urged them to take all necessary precautions for their own safety. He made aware that estimates suggested that several healthcare workers had already lost their lives in less than two months since covid-19 first appeared and many dozens, including doctors are idling away in quarantine. He stressed the need for sound Knowledge of Infection Prevention and Control protocol to be eligible for consideration to manage the infection.

The Minister reminded health workers to be vigilant and protect themselves in the line of duty. He asked citizens to call the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) toll-free number or ones state emergency number, if they suspect themselves or anyone around who may have symptoms of COVID-19. He emphasized that the use of tissue cover over ones mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing had been long advocated to control the spread of COVID-19 infection. He further urged Nigerians to avoid mass gathering, practice hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing, cancel all non –essential travel out of where one resides, wash and sun-dry or iron ones reusable cloth masks or face covering daily. Most especially stay home, stay safe.

Earlier speaking, the Secretary General of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, thanked His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs for endorsing the recommendations of the Emergency Fatwah Committee by issuing a statement guiding the conduct of the Ummah on the suspension of obligatory religious activities such as Jumaat, congregational and other sessions during the month of Ramadan to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He encouraged scholars and organizations to use all other means of communication and broadcast to disseminate information and conduct programmes.

He further stated that the PTF remains committed to leading the fight against COVID-19 and craved for the support, understanding and corporation of all Nigerians.

Enefaa Bob-Manuel
DD (Information)