The Honourable Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire has said that Federal Government is focusing on reducing fatality of COVID-19 to less than 1%, not only with preventive measures, but with strategy that encourages citizens to report early for treatment and for hospitals to attend to all patients in distress, most importantly to be able to provide oxygen treatment.
The Minister disclosed this at the Press Conference on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday, he said the figures show that Nigeria is also sadly approaching the symbolic 1,000 number of fatalities, a grim reality that should be a wake up call for Nigerians while asked to remind Nigerians that the virus is still very much around and will be for a long time.
According to him, “Until there is vaccine, the only options we have to protect ourselves, are still the non-pharmaceutical measures that are proven to be cheap and effective, such as the appropriate use of face masks, physical distancing and avoiding crowds. If we do not adhere, there could be regrets.
“The urgency is accentuated by the need to prepare for societal changes that will arise as the economy reopens with increased transportation, trade and human interaction, including possible reopening of air travel. We must make an effort to balance the benefits of a reactivated economy with the need to keep citizens safe, with no loss in gains so far made”, he added.
He noted that since the main COVID-19 symptoms include breathlessness, which responds well to oxygen supplementation as first measure. “We are turning our preferences therefore to gadgets that provide oxygen, like oxygen generators to be in many facilities, including General hospitals and larger PHCs. Solar powered aggregates, where available, will be prioritized.
“Federal Health Institutions with oxygen plants should activate them as a matter of priority and ensure they can deliver to their A & E Dept. The other measure is the activation of Ambulance service to move patients to treatment centers. This strategy worked well in Kano and all States should prepare to set up the system. The Federal Ministry of Health will provide guidance”.
He added that the continuity of normal health services, capacity building of health workers and their protection with PPEs, are the most critical activities Federal Government wish to see secured. “Resilient health systems ensure BHCPF services continue to reach PHC health facilities, (both public and private), and referral cases to Secondary health facilities. It is critical in our present COVID 19 pandemic challenge, to use the opportunity to strengthen our Health systems”.
He also called on State, Local Government authorities and healthcare workers to ensure that the most rational and judicious use is made of all commodities. “The National Council on Health also approved the establishment of the National Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System (NEMSAS), an innovative system to pool the assets of public and private sector ambulances and hospitals, to raise funds to augment government seed money.
“To work with States to provide emergency medical care and patient transportation to all citizens whenever and wherever it is required and irrespective of immediate or potential ability to pay. It will be possible to considerably reduce COVID-19 mortality, including also maternal, child mortality, and post crash mortality with a functional Emergency Medical Service and Ambulance System that can rely on the combined assets of private and public sectors”, he said.