By Kuni Tyessi
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has expressed his concerns over the COVID-19 second wave of infections which he says may be imminent and has called for more strengthened health systems which he noted are already overwhelmed.
He said Nigeria, having moved from the first few cases recorded in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, to the current COVID-19 community transmission phase, with over 60,000 confirmed cases and 1,135 deaths across the country, has been able to strengthen its testing, tracing and treatment capacity.
Ehanire who gave the keynote address during virtual Annual General Meeting(AGM) and 30th anniversary of Guild of Medical Directors, Lagos Chapter, said the huge second wave of COVID-19 outbreak raging in Europe and America gives great reason for concern due to high volume of human traffic between Nigeria and those countries.
He said the private sector remains a vital contributor to Nigeria, having moved from the first few cases recorded in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, to the current COVID-19 community transmission phase, with over 60,000 confirmed cases and 1,135 deaths across our country, has been able to strengthen its testing, tracing and treatment capacity.
He added that Lagos State being a major international travel entry point and an extensive, vibrant metropolis, with corresponding high risks, suffered the double impact of being the most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and also the #EndSARS protest, putting the resilience of the health institutions and systems to the test.
Soliciting for the support of private practitioners, the minister urged the association to propagate known effective public non-pharmaceutical measures, increase index of suspicion and caution, and above all cooperate with public health officials to prepare for, and respond to all emerging health challenges.
According to him: “I have reason to worry that our own second wave in Nigeria may be imminent. We therefore have no reason for complacency, but every reason to wake up. Although we have done much to strengthen our health system, we are weary of it being overwhelmed. Lagos is a major international travel entry point and an extensive, vibrant metropolis. The risks are corresponding.
“Nigeria, having moved from the first few cases recorded in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, to the current COVID-19 community transmission phase, with over 60,000 confirmed cases and 1,135 deaths across our country, has been able to strengthen its testing, tracing and treatment capacity.“
Encouraging all states and private sector practitioners to cooperate with the federal government and buy into its health sector next level agenda, the minister disclosed that a national post-COVID-19 sustainability plan has been developed to guide the nation’s return to normalcy and ensure that all sectors, especially the health sector, are better strengthened.
Minister of state, Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora said the appearance of a new disease, and its progression to the declaration of global pandemic status was challenging for healthcare providers.
He said: “The advent of the pandemic has brought with it apprehension, concern for a nation with weak healthcare infrastructure, personal concern and concern for friends, and finally concern for the economic impact on a nation.
”The private sector and private individuals in enlightened self interest, seeing as travelling abroad for treatment was not an option, stepped in.”
President of the Guild, Prof. Femi Babalola, said the year 2020 had been extremely challenging for all Nigerians, and especially for those in the private practice.
He estimated that about 2,500 health workers had been infected with the disease out of a total of 60,000 infections nationwide.
He stated that the GMD was involved in the Frontline Health-workers Foundation of Nigeria (FHWFN), and the National Emergencies Medical Services and Ambulance System (NEMSAS).
“We have also had to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and all. We all find ourselves in the frontline of health care, daily exposing ourselves to the possibility of infection while attending to our patients.
” And in spite of these dangers, we have soldiered on with very little support from outside our own efforts. Indeed, we have lost some of our members to the COVID-19 crises,” he said.