Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja and Eziomume Solomon, Nnewi
The Federal Government has warned of an imminent outbreak of another pandemic if the country failed to take advantage of opportunities presented by the COVID-19 to develop its health infrastructure.
Data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed that Nigeria has continues to record significant increase and as at yesterday, the country had 36,663 confirmed cases with 15,105 cases discharged and 789 deaths in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 212,201 tests have been carried out as of July 19.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, gave the warning, yesterdday, in Abuja, when he inaugurated the Board of Experts (BoE) of the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS).
According to the SGF, if Nigeria failed to seize the moment to fix its healthcare infrastructure, it would find itself starting all over if confronted with another pandemic outbreak.
“If we had built on the experiences of Ebola and other epidemics that we have dealt with in the past, probably, today, we wouldn’t have started with about two molecular laboratories for the testing of COVID-19.
“If you travel the shores of this country, you will find out that we have over 10,000 public primary healthcare centres scattered in wards and villages across the country, ill-equipped, ineffective and not being put into use, but we keep building them,” he said.
Mustapha urged members of the board to also look at governance structures in the healthcare sector, apart from their primary responsibilities.
“COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses in our health system, in our governance system, in our security infrastructure, in our inclusiveness and creating social safety nets for our people. It would be the greatest disappointment of our time and of our generation if we do not seize the opportunity of the moment to redress all the deficiencies of the defects that we’ve had in our health and other infrastructure in this country,” he said.
The SGF spoke as the Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Dr. Joe Ugboaja, also raised the alarm that COVID-19 might overwhelm Nigeria if nothing was done to curb its spread.Ugboaja called for stricter compliance to COVID-19 protocols so that more Nigerians would not be infected, noting that the careless attitude of Nigerians including VIPs was responsible for the rise in number of cases across the country.Ugboaja, who is also director of Clinical Services, Research and Training in the hospital and chairman, COVID-19 taskforce in the facility, said the call become imperative in view of the rising number of cases, resulting from the ongoing community spread.
“Time has come for everybody to take responsibility of curtailing the spread of the virus. This is the only way we can flatten the curve. It is highly worrisome that even in the face of increment in the number of infected persons, most people still go about their businesses as if nothing is happening.
“Every day, you see people moving up and down in groups without their face masks. In the markets and work places, people cluster without observing the social distancing. At the beer parlours, people cluster, paying little or no attention to COVID-19 protocols.
“This carefree attitude of the people is largely responsible for the increasing number of cases in the country today.”
He, therefore, called on relevant stakeholders to join hands with government at all levels in order to win the war against the virus. He urged the government to strengthen and support various isolation centres and hospitals managing the pandemic with necessary kits to enable them respond adequately to cases.