The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has charged royal fathers and Area Council Chairmen in the FCT to take on the responsibility of educating and sensitizing residents at the grassroots level on the need to adhere to established protocols in the fight against COVID-19 in the FCT.
The Minister spoke at an emergency COVID 19 meeting of stakeholders in the FCT on Tuesday which including religious, traditional and political leaders. The meeting also had in attendance the Director General of Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19, Dr Sani Aliyu amongst other participants.
Malam Bello who chaired the meeting, expressed the appreciation of the FCTA to the frontline health workers and called for a standing ovation for them for their efforts in the fight against the virus in the FCT.
Speaking on the education and sensitization of residents at the grassroots level, Malam Bello said that the onus of spreading the information of the virus at that level fell heavily on the shoulders on the Area Council Administration and traditional and religious institutions at that level.
While pledging the commitment of the FCT Administration to the fight against the virus, he said that defeating it required a collective responsibility by all and urged all the stakeholders to also play their part, by supporting the efforts of the Administration.
On her part, the FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu warned against the stigmatization of COVID 19 patients who, she stressed did not deliberately seek to be infected and like the FCT Minister, she also called for the collective efforts of all stakeholders in the fight against the virus.
Dr Tijjani Aliyu also asked residents to disregard misinformation that the government was involved in the spread of the virus and said they should instead focus on curbing its spread through the obedience to extant guidelines of wearing face masks, maintain personal hygiene and observing social distancing. She also reminded all the stakeholders on community transmission which was on-going and said it would take collective efforts by all to stop its spread.
In his remarks, the Director General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu commended the FCT Administration for the construction of the road leading to the National Reference Laboratory at Gaduwa, Abuja which he said has increased the efficiency of the facility.
Dr. Ihekweazu also commended leadership of the FCT Administration for being proactive in its approach to battling the pandemic and also charged the traditional rulers on sensitizing the people at the grassroot level.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID 19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, said that the best way to fight the virus is through an attitudinal change by the people. This, he said, is where the traditional and religious leaders come in through community engagement. He disclosed that the virus was now in the communities, adding that the important issue residents should be concerned about is ‘staying alive’ while the pandemic lasts.
While briefing the meeting on the situation of the pandemic in the FCT, the State Epidemiologist, Dr. Doris John, gave an overview of the spread while also stressing on the rising level of community transmission. She also stated that poor adherence to preventive measures increased the spread of the virus while late presentation of cases has led to increased number of fatalities.
She also mentioned that the major challenges faced by health workers in the fight against the pandemic are stigmatization and denial, myth and misconception, confirmed cases refusing to be evacuated to treatment centers, low involvement of key stakeholders at the community levels, increasing number of sick frontline health workers and the high number of imported cases to the FCT. Speaking, the traditional rulers pledged their commitment to the fight against the virus in their communities.