Over 9 months into COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria, there are issues about how effectively the nation has managed the pandemic. Adejuwon Soyinka, from The Dialog Africa, requested Dr Doyin Odubanjo, govt secretary of the Nigerian Academy of Science, to evaluate the state of affairs and the way it would possibly have an effect on the nation’s capability to handle different equally vital ailments.
The place does Nigeria stand so far as COVID-19 is anxious 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 should always. Many Nigerians are additionally not compliant with the laws and preventive protocols and lots of state governments are uninterested in following COVID-19 protocols and spending a lot cash. We are able to’t inform the burden of the illness in our midst.
What we all know is that the positivity fee is decrease than it was once. In a bunch of samples, you get fewer constructive circumstances.
Maybe now we have developed herd immunity. However we don’t know. We have now to do what we name sero-prevalence research in communities, to see if folks have immunity already towards this virus.
What are the implications of COVID-19 for Nigeria’s well being sector?
I believe the affect of COVID-19 in Nigeria is each good and unhealthy. Good within the sense that everyone, from authorities to the folks on the streets, realised the significance of well being. Lots of personal sector folks additionally recognised that we’d like our well being system to work.
However with the variety of strikes, for example, that now we have seen within the well being sector and the sort of response now we have seen from authorities, one wonders whether or not we perceive the gravity of the state of affairs.
Secondly, the entire world now realises the significance of well being. And which means many international locations are starting to rejig their well being methods, which begins with the workforce. International locations may have particular visas and visa exceptions to draw well being employees and different professionals.
These international locations are repositioning to keep away from one other state of affairs, like this. However I’ve not heard of this in Nigeria. That’s saddening, as a result of it means our well being employees now have extra alternatives to go away this nation and work elsewhere.
Nigeria doesn’t give well being employees a cushty setting to work in. The stress of not getting good remuneration, not having gear to work with, of insecurity of their nation, is pushing them out.
If now we have ever nervous about migration of well being employees, we have to fear rather more now.
And thirdly, COVID-19 isn’t just a well being pandemic, it’s also 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, guaranteeing they’ve electrical energy, working water, the best gear for prognosis and therapy and all of that and but there may be financial downturn.
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What about different ailments 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 ailments 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 chance 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 vital a part of public well being. And there are specific key ailments which can be notifiable. If you happen to even see a single case of that illness, you could rapidly notify authorities as a result of they need to work on it earlier than it turns into an enormous problem.
Establishments just like the Nigeria Centre for Illness Management have completely different models, for instance a yellow fever unit. These folks are supposed to have been targeted on their ailments, regardless of COVID-19. Nonetheless, there isn’t a telling whether or not a few of these employees have been diverted to COVID-19 exercise.
We in all probability uncared for lots of issues we must be doing. However yellow fever outbreaks are anticipated to occur occasionally, particularly in locations the place the vaccination programmes haven’t been sufficient 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 guide the vaccines it wants. So far as I do know, Nigeria has not defaulted on these funds, so we should always have our vaccines. The Nationwide Main Well being Care Improvement Company (NPHCDA) is accountable for our routine vaccination programmes. The Nigeria Centre for Illness Management (NCDC) is the one primarily driving the COVID-19 response. So we count on the vaccination to be wonderful.
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The problem is how one can place the well being system within the coming yr. There might be fewer employees and almost definitely 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 crucial personalities ought to ship a message residence that even in case you can afford the perfect insurance coverage or greatest healthcare wherever on the earth, you may have outbreaks of ailments right here in Nigeria that may nonetheless kill you. And there’s nothing higher than having a well being system that may give you the results you want and the remainder of us round you. That’s one of the best ways to be secure.
What ought to Nigerians be doing to maintain the pandemic at bay till the vaccination arrives?
I believe we should always observe the identified precautions: watch out with contact with folks, watch out with crowds as a result of anyone could possibly 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 the COVID-19 precautions very critically.
There are specific common issues we might repair in our way of life to keep away from ailments. Important vaccination for COVID-19 shouldn’t be more likely to occur in Nigeria in lower than a yr. We should proceed with life, however we should proceed with warning. If we simply take the best precautions, we must be wonderful.