Doyin Odubanjo, government secretary of the Nigerian Academy of Science, on how the pandemic might have an effect on the nation’s capacity to handle different illnesses
Over 9 months into the novel coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak in Nigeria, there are considerations about how nicely the nation has managed the pandemic. Adejuwon Soyinka, from The Dialog Africa, requested Dr Doyin Odubanjo, government secretary of the Nigerian Academy of Science, to evaluate the scenario and the way it may have an effect on the nation’s capacity to handle different equally vital illnesses.
The place does Nigeria stand so far as COVID-19 is worried in the mean time?
I might say we’re within the wilderness. Mainly we don’t know the place we’re. I believe the one factor that everyone agrees on is that the illness doesn’t have the chunk in Nigeria that it has in different components of the world. And that we’re actually grateful for.
We don’t have the capability to check as we must always. Many Nigerians are additionally not compliant with the rules and preventive protocols and lots of state governments are bored with following COVID-19 protocols and spending a lot cash. We will’t inform the burden of the illness in our midst.
What we all know is that the positivity price is decrease than it was once. In a bunch of samples, you get fewer optimistic circumstances.
Maybe we’ve got developed herd immunity. However we don’t know. We have now to do what we name sero-prevalence research in communities, to see if individuals have immunity already in opposition to this virus.
What are the implications of COVID-19 for Nigeria’s well being sector?
I believe the influence of COVID-19 in Nigeria is each good and dangerous. Good within the sense that everyone, from authorities to the individuals on the streets, realised the significance of well being. Plenty of non-public sector individuals additionally recognised that we want our well being system to work.
However with the variety of strikes, as an illustration, that we’ve got seen within the well being sector and the type of response we’ve got seen from authorities, one wonders whether or not we perceive the gravity of the scenario.
Secondly, the entire world now realises the significance of well being. And which means many international locations are starting to rejig their well being techniques, which begins with the workforce. International locations may have particular visas and visa exceptions to draw well being staff and different professionals.
These international locations are repositioning to keep away from one other scenario, like this. However I’ve not heard of this in Nigeria. That’s saddening, as a result of it means our well being staff now have extra alternatives to depart this nation and work elsewhere.
Nigeria doesn’t give well being staff a snug atmosphere to work in. The strain of not getting good remuneration, not having gear to work with, of insecurity of their nation, is pushing them out.
If we’ve got ever nervous about migration of well being staff, we have to fear way more now.
And thirdly, COVID-19 isn’t just a well being pandemic, it is usually a “socio-economic pandemic”. We have now much less funds to work with, so we will’t finance the well being sector. We’re speaking about good remuneration, fixing hospitals, making certain they’ve electrical energy, operating water, the best gear for prognosis and remedy and all of that and but there may be financial downturn.
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What about different illnesses which were uncared for due to the main focus that has been given to COVID-19 within the final 9 months?
One of many risks, not simply in Nigeria however globally, is that the administration of COVID-19 has ensured that each one different illnesses have been uncared for considerably.
Hospitals have been shut down and have been solely attending to COVID-19 sufferers as a result of they have been afraid of the danger of transmission to anyone else who got here in, even for routine surgical procedures. Girls couldn’t go to the antenatal clinics, and even have secure supply in hospital. Those that wanted most cancers screening couldn’t get it.
The sum of money that went into COVID additionally ensured that we weren’t spending cash on different issues. Illness surveillance is a essential a part of public well being. And there are specific key illnesses which can be notifiable. Should you even see a single case of that illness, you need to shortly notify authorities as a result of they need to work on it earlier than it turns into a giant situation.
Establishments just like the Nigeria Centre for Illness Management have completely different items, for instance a yellow fever unit. These individuals are supposed to have been centered on their illnesses, regardless of COVID-19. Nonetheless, there isn’t a telling whether or not a few of these staff have been diverted to COVID-19 exercise.
We most likely uncared for loads of issues we must be doing. However yellow fever outbreaks are anticipated to occur on occasion, particularly in locations the place the vaccination programmes haven’t been satisfactory all alongside. There have been warnings for just a few years now that Nigeria wanted to do fairly a complete yellow fever vaccination programme.
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What must be the main focus areas for well being in 2021? What vaccination programmes are in danger?
Most often a rustic has to pay upfront to e-book the vaccines it wants. So far as I do know, Nigeria has not defaulted on these funds, so we must always have our vaccines. The Nationwide Major Well being Care Improvement Company (NPHCDA) is in control of our routine vaccination programmes. The Nigeria Centre for Illness Management (NCDC) is the one primarily driving the COVID-19 response. So we anticipate the vaccination to be fantastic.
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The problem is how you can place the well being system within the coming 12 months. There might be fewer staff and almost certainly much less funding however higher want. We have to perceive the significance of a really robust well being system.
I believe the truth that COVID-19 might take out some essential personalities ought to ship a message house that even should you can afford one of the best insurance coverage or greatest healthcare anyplace on the planet, you could possibly have outbreaks of illnesses right here in Nigeria that may nonetheless kill you. And there’s nothing higher than having a well being system that may be just right for you and the remainder of us round you. That’s one of the simplest ways to be secure.
What ought to Nigerians be doing to maintain the pandemic at bay till the vaccination arrives?
I believe we must always observe the recognized precautions: watch out with contact with individuals, watch out with crowds as a result of anyone might be a service of the illness. Take all of the precautions you may, like carrying a masks and washing your arms, simply in case you got here involved with the virus. It’s vital to take COVID-19 precautions very severely.
There are particular basic issues we might repair in our way of life to keep away from illnesses. Important vaccination for COVID-19 is just not prone to occur in Nigeria in lower than a 12 months. We should proceed with life, however we should proceed with warning. If we simply take the best precautions, we must be fantastic.
Doyin Odubanjo, Government Secretary, Nigerian Academy of Science
This text is republished from The Dialog underneath a Inventive Commons license. Learn the unique article.
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