Why we are not disposed to treatment of Covid-19 patients at home – NCDC DG
Why we are not disposed to treatment of Covid-19 patients at home – NCDC DG

By Chioma Obinna

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, recently, said the state was considering home management of COVID-19 patients due to shortage of bed space in its isolation centres. But the Nigerian Medical Association warned against the adoption of the newly approved WHO’s home treatment policy for COVID-19 patients.

According to the NMA, while accepting the noticeable acute shortage of bed spaces available at the designated centres, Nigeria should take into consideration the peculiar housing challenges in the country.

It stated that Nigeria has an average of six persons per household and, consequently, wholesale adoption of the guideline may not be applicable in Nigeria unless the country is prepared to risk an explosive regime of community transmission without modifications, especially in situations of poor housing and overcrowding.

The NMA also advocated the revamping of abandoned General Hospitals and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) to mitigate the challenges with home treatment and acute shortage of bed spaces.

Sunday Vanguard spoke to the Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Iheakweazu, on the country’s treatment protocol. Excerpts:

Lagos State government said it is likely to commence treatment of COVID-19 patients at home and in primary healthcare centres. How safe is the idea and is part of the treatment protocols?

The policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria remains institutional management for all COVID-19 confirmed cases. It is recommended that clinicians recommend the use of designated treatment areas, according to severity and acute care needs, to care for confirmed COVID -19 cases.

Home care should only be recommended where institutional management of cases is not possible. An appropriate risk assessment for patients must be done and appropriate counselling provided before home care is recommended.

Medical doctors among other health workers and Nigerians are expressing fears. What is your take on this?

Our priority is the safety of all Nigerians, especially our health workers at the frontline. A detailed risk assessment will be carried out on a case-by-case basis before home care is recommended for any patient. This is in addition to standard infection prevention and control measures being put in place.

READ ALSO: Pregnant COVID-19 patient delivers of baby boy in Lagos

With the way confirmed cases are rising, what are your fears?

We are working very hard with states to ensure that the required systems are in place to respond to an increase in cases. This includes ensuring early detection of cases by strengthening our sample transportation mechanism and laboratory capacity, management of cases to recovery, contact tracing, risk communications and other response activities.

We urge Nigerians to adhere to the guidance provided by NCDC, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Task Force. Measures such as restriction on inter-state travel, physical distancing, use of face masks, handwashing and others are very important to reduce the risk of further spread of the virus in our country.

We were told in Lagos that many people that tested positive have refused to go to isolation centres. What are the figures like and what efforts are NCDC, PTF and state governments making to either track them or prosecute them?

We are working very hard to ensure that all COVID-19 confirmed cases can be managed to recovery, while limiting further spread of the disease. It is very important for us to adhere to the advice and recommendations from health workers. There are risks in home care management, especially for people who are older, have an underlying illness or live in a place where complete self-isolation is not possible. We urge Nigerians to protect themselves, families and loved ones by adhering to advice provided.

Vanguard

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