By Chioma Obinna $ Toheeb Idris
As Nigeria battles with the 5th wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, an infectious disease Physician Dr Iorhen Akase, has said there was a need for Nigeria to adopt the approach of integrating COVID care into routine patient management as the world is far from eradicating the virus.
Akase who lamented that Nigeria was far away from where it should be in terms of vaccination coverage which he said, is hovering around 11 percent explained that integration of COVID care will bring the disease to the same level as such as hypertension, and hepatitis among others.
In a chat with Good Health Weekly on the gradual rise of COVID-19 cases in the country, Akase who is also the Head infectious unit of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, called for a holistic approach as cases of infectious diseases go beyond persons infected and persons that will take care of the later.
According to him, “When COVID care is integrated into routine patent management; it will make it not very different from someone who comes with hypertension or Tuberculosis but just another disease. COVID is not going away, rather, the time shall come when you come to the hospital you will have 10 COVID-19 cases and nobody will know. Today, we have patients admitted to the hospital with hepatitis and people will not know they are there because it has been integrated into routine patient care.”
Continuing, Akase who noted that the country has been faced with infectious disease outbreaks in recent years, observed that some indirect primary factors are driving the resurgence of infectious diseases in the country.
He traced the driving factors from social economics to infrastructure, risk management, and behavioural patterns.
“We need to go beyond the person infected and the person treating them to look at the other background factors driving infectious diseases.
Acknowledging, that they are seeing cases of COVID-19 at LUTH, he said: “We have mild cases different from what we were seeing at the beginning and this is the projection that we are going to get to a certain stage where COVID-19 will no longer go away but become like one of the infectious diseases.
“One clear message is that COVID-19 will no longer go away. It is going to become like most respiratory viruses that come in seasons and when people get infected and they will come to the hospital for treatment. We will get to a stage where it will no longer be a big public health problem as we have seen in the past. It will keep coming in seasons.”
“Thankfully, we no longer have serious cases that require ICU admission, oxygen, and ventilation. All we are having are cases that we can manage and that is the beauty of vaccination.
“Most of the stories then, is that those who get vaccinated will die in two years and the reverse is the case we’ve seen clearly that those that have been vaccinated have benefit, also clearly people need to be educated and also be aware that COVID-19 is still out there and the whole community has to come together play their part by getting vaccinated.”