The Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank has identified seven key areas of urgent need in Nigeria for the execution of the fight against the pandemic.
In a statement made available to THISDAY thursday, the Chairman of the think tank, Atedo Peterside said these areas include deployment of test kits; molecular laboratories; medical face masks; personal protective equipment; respirators and ventilators; Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin; and safety nets.
Peterside said: “Access to test kits is critical. The countries that have performed best in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, including South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam all tested extensively and were then able to implement efficient containment processes.
“On molecular laboratories and skilled personnel, testing capacity must be ramped up dramatically. The PCR molecular swab test is the only currently WHO approved diagnostic test for COVID-19. It is highly reliable when positive. Several novel testing modalities are in development and pending approval by global and national public health authorities. We need access to kits for purchase and by donation.”
He said Nigeria urgently needs both surgical face masks and cloth face coverings, adding that surgical masks should be reserved for frontline healthcare personnel, and that the country’s textile industry, including small street tailors to factories, should begin to make cloth face coverings for the citizens.
Peterside, who is also the Founder of Stanbic IBTC, said Nigeria was in need of gowns, which he explained can be made by textile factories. “We also need gloves, masks, goggles, face screens, head and foot protection, and walkie-talkies for two-way communication for those in full PPE in ICU.
“Government should consider deploying final year medical and nursing students, retirees, and unemployed health professionals of all grades, as well as accept assistance from countries that have had success in controlling the spread of COVID-19.
“There must be a planned correlation between the supply of ventilators and the availability of trained manpower to use this equipment.”
He said some anecdotal reports suggest a benefit of Hydroxychloroquine with or without azithromycin in the treatment of COVID-19, adding that clinical trials were underway to determine the role of any of the drugs in the treatment of the infection.
“Dietary and monetary donations are needed. This should be synchronized with efforts from the government, private sector, nongovernmental
organisations, religious organisations, and grass roots political structures of the local governments to ensure the most effective coverage.
“Consider engaging traditional rulers when appropriate, who through their networks of village heads can identify impacted families and effectively organise distribution.”