The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has disclosed the harvest of goodwill and supports to Nigeria which began on Thursday, 18th June, 2020 when the World Health Organizations’ Africa Regional Certification Commission for poliomyelitis Eradication announced the certification of Nigeria as a Polio-free State, with certificate to be issued later in August; to Saturday, 20th June, 2020 when the country received a donation of a large consignment of medical supplies made up of PPEs and 547 oxygen concentrators as a first of series of deliveries from the UN Group and the European Union.
As well, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), which had earlier withdrawn their supportive services to the nation’s health institutions, called off their work strike action.
At the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Press Briefing of Monday, 22nd June, 2020. Dr. Ehanire described the polio-free-certification status as “an achievement worth celebrating, considering that up to 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of the polio cases worldwide.”
Speaking further, he stated that the credit for this achievement goes to all tiers of Government, International partners, Community leaders, and above all, the thousands of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), front-line health workers and resource groups. He assured that although energy is being directed to supporting the fight against COVID-19 especially in this community transmission phase, other healthcare services like routine immunization shall be maintained to ensure that Nigeria stays polio free.”
The Honourale Minister particularly appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment and unalloyed support for the program on polio.
On confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Nigeria, the Health Minister disclosed that Nigeria has surpassed the 20,000 mark reaching 20,244. “The highest number of daily diagnosed new cases of 745 was recorded on Thursday, 18th June, 2020, with 436 again recorded over the past 24 hours.” He stated that while the overall trajectory was predicted as the course of events, as explained both by increased community transmission and rising testing capacity, “It is a reminder that we must not let down our guards, but also begin to re-strategize on additional measures of keeping control of the situation. He called for collective responsibility pointing out that this is also the prime feature of the National COVID-19 Response Action Plan of the Federal Ministry of Health, which tries to map a near, medium and long term health sector response strategy to the challenge, across all areas of health, over the next 3-year period.”
Dr. Ehanire further disclosed that the Plan is to be presented to the National Council of Health and approved by States, for the development of State specific Action Plans, to address State peculiarities.”
On cases of fatalities recorded in Nigeria, Dr. Ehanire suggested that such may possibly have been avoided if they had arrived at designated treatment centers early enough pointing out that the clinical condition of COVID-19 patients, especially the elderly and those with underlying illnesses, can change from mild to critical within such a short time that patients hardly have time to seek hospital care. He therefore advised all hospitals to have the right index of suspicion, recognize and promptly refer suspected cases to designated hospitals. “Attempting to treat COVID-19 positive patients, when not so accredited, puts all involved at risk.”
The Honourable Minister strongly advised persons with symptoms and those with underlying diseases or over 60 years of age, to check into an isolation or treatment centre for observation.
He urged all to be mindful of the challenges covid-19 poses to Nigeria and the world, and further reinforce our resolve to tackle the pandemic stating that case fatalities can be reduced if non-pharmaceutical interventions are scaled up and we become more proactive in dealing with positive cases. He encouraged the scaling up of testing, tracing, treatment and Isolation, with priority on offering more protection to elderly citizens and those with co-morbidities, from the threat of infection.
By Blessing Egbo
Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Information, Media & Public Relations.