…Lists steps to reduce impact of second wave
By Chioma Obinna
As health authorities in Lagos continued to raise the alarm over increasing cases of COVID-19, Medical Guild has urged government to stop the importation of the new strain of the virus which “spreads easily and damages with increased morbidity and mortality”.
The medical body said its members had been seeing an increased incidence of persons presenting late to hospital where they become oxygen dependent which may result in worse outcomes.
The Chairman of the Guild, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, who is also the Head, Family Physician, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, insisted that Lagos and Nigeria at large must adopt a multipronged approach to stem the tide of the virus while reducing death from severe forms.
The physician, who noted that it was difficult balancing the social and economic aspects with the health-related aspects, told Sunday Vanguard at the weekend:
“There should be strengthening of the testing of returnees to the country, ensuring they come in with negative results and that a repeat test is done at about 7 days.“Those who are symptomatic must isolate promptly and get treatment”.
According to him, government must, however, not be weary in finding solution to the spread of the virus.“There should also be continuous health promotion aimed at making citizens realized the effects of COVID-19 and the potential to lead to severe health challenges including death”, Sodipo stated.“There should also be enforcement of basic preventive measures such as the use of face mask, hand sanitizers and social distancing.”Other measures he listed include expanding testing of contacts of COVID-19 patients and ill persons with prompt result notification, and expanding treatment especially for the vulnerable and ill.
The physician explained that government must also ensure social benefits for the most vulnerable while health care workers who bear the brunt of infections should be prioritized for provision of personal protective equipment, health and life insurance and appropriate hazard allowances.
Speaking on vaccines, the Medical Guild Chairman, who noted that although the vaccines would not solve the problem completely as a maximum number of people must be vaccinated to provide the beneficial effect, said emphasis should be on getting the most vulnerable vaccinated such as the elderly, health care workers and those with other diseases such as cancer and renal disease etc.Sodipo said government should also use vaccines with verified safety and efficacy data such as the Oxford- Astrazeneca and the Pfizer Biotech vaccines.
On the efforts of Lagos doctors in curbing the virus, he said they have played a critical role in battling the COVID-19 pandemic and would continue to do so.Sodipo stressed that there is a need for the public to understand the severity of the illness and take precautionary measures such as the use of face masks, social distancing and presenting early to the hospital.
“The Medical Guild and other medical associations have played a critical role in educating the public, advocacy to government and provision of personal protective equipment to members and have been involved in all aspects of the COVID-19 response”, the physician said.“I must say that Lagos government has performed well in terms of provision of personal protective equipment, increasing testing from the initial capacity and efforts to start the oxygen supply via the establishment of oxygen plants in various parts of the state.
However more can still be done and can do more especially in terms of ensuring the health and life assurance for health care workers, provision of testing and treatment support for health workers who should be prioritised, increasing the hazard allowances for all health care workers, whilst giving special allowances to all those directly involved in the COVID-19 response”.
Nigeria will be taking its first delivery of 100,000 doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for 84, 655, 749 people (40 percent) of the country’s 200 million population.
Top among those to be vaccinated first are health workers in isolation centres nationwide, 10 percent of adults above 50 years of age, 17 percent of persons with co-morbidity below 50 years and 12 percent of other risk groups.
Other frontline workers like immigration officers at the airport, and personnel at testing centres and those categorised as targeted uniform personnel would also be prioritised for vaccination because of exposure.
Giving a breakdown of how subsequent vaccines would be utilised, the Director of Disease Control and Immunisation, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr. Bassey Okposen, said the 100,000 doses would be utilised efficiently as each beneficiary will need a second dose after three weeks.
Okposen further explained that states with a high burden of COVID would be given a priority.
$8 per vaccine
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osage Ehanire, had earlier said Nigeria needs N400 billion to vaccinate 70 percent of its population at $8 per vaccine.
Ehanire said the country would be spending N156 billion in 2021 and N200 billion in 2022.