Faith Awa Maji, Lafia
Worried by the surging increase of new cases of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, a Vaccinologist and a Public Health Epidemiologist, Dr Akyala Ishaku said, the country need to redouble its effort by engaging Community Health Workers in the COVID-19 Response.
Dr Akyala who is also a Senior Lecturer with the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, stated this on Saturday while interacting with The Sun correspondent in Lafia.
He noted that the current Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak has affected over 200 countries including Nigeria which is one of the largest respiratory disease outbreaks affecting several countries simultaneously and a novel strain of Coronavirus (SARS-CoV 2) has been identified as the causative agent.
He said sequel to the advice of the International Health Regulation Emergency Committee, the Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO), declared the COVID-19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020 and characterized it as a pandemic on 11 March 2020, hence the need for effective engagement of community health workers for an appropriate response to COVID-19.
“Going by COVID-19 and daily epidemiological reports from the website of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) from 27 February 2020 till 3 May 2020 (Epidemiology week 7 – 17) to describe the outbreak, there is evidence of ongoing and increasing community transmission of COVID-19 infections, inadequate testing capacity and overwhelming of health resources.
“Nigeria’s COVID-19 situation has revealed infection of several health workers in the face of existing critical skilled health workforce shortage.”
According to Dr Ishaku, with the increase of new COVID-19 cases and a huge number of contacts to be traced, it is recommended that the government needs to promptly bring in Community Health Workers on board, deploy rapid epidemic intelligence and scale up the use of mobile Apps for contact tracing.
“This will result in an effective and coordinated response to the ongoing outbreak, sustain routine health services especially at the community level, reduce morbidity and mortality, and preserve health indices gains already made in the health system,” Dr Akyala Ishaku added.