Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has warned that it is not giving out contracts, advising the public to beware of fraudsters parading fake contract papers.
The task force expressed concern about the steady rise in maternal and child mortality as a result of disrupted essential services.
PTF Coordinator Dr Sani Aliyu gave the warning at the task force’s daily briefing on Thursday.
‘I wanted to again inform the public that the PTF has not been giving out contracts. The PTF is not a procurement body. We understand that a lot of fraudulent letters going around trying to sell contracts to members of the public. So, buyers, beware. We are not signing any contracts on behalf of the PTF,’ he said.
On the rise in maternal and child mortality, Dr Aliyu said: ‘We have been observing a steady rise in maternal and child mortality as a result of disrupted essential services. We have also seen life-saving, maternal, newborn and child, health services, routine vaccinations, access to care for chronic conditions such as HIV and other treatments not being delivered in our hospitals.
‘We are also seeing the diversion of certain products like second-line HIV drugs, for instance, an antiretroviral that’s being used for HIV treatment and that’s currently being used for COVID infection and as mentioned by the DG NCDC.
‘We are asking health institutions to make sure that they have proper assessment processes for people presenting with possible COVID; they must have holding areas and screening areas so that their staff can protect themselves and at the same time be able to deliver care.
‘Hospitals are there to look after patients, hospitals are not there to turn patients back, people should not be allowed to suffer or die because of COVID infection.
‘We must not allow preventable deaths to occur in our communities simply because of COVID or because we are afraid of it,’ the PTF Coordinator stated.
Dr Aliyu also assured that the PTF will continue to ensure health workers are protected, as he reminded hospitals that they are there to treat patients, not turn them down.
‘I would like to briefly talk about the impact of COVID-19 on our health services, both in terms of the quality and also access to care.
‘As you’re aware, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole world has engaged in an unprecedented response against this virus and against the disease and quite rightly too.
‘However, as a result of this, we are seeing a situation where health services are not concentrating on other health conditions. If anything, the emergence of COVID-19 has led to the detriment in terms of care for other Essential Health Services and this negative impact included a reduction in health services that could arise from disruptions in medical supply chains or the availability of human and financial resources. Also, there is a decline in people accessing healthcare, simply because of the fear of getting affected by COVID-19.
‘We’ve also seen reduced access to health care for medical diagnosis of other conditions and for the most vulnerable populations, like children, the elderly and those with underlying illnesses such as diabetes.
‘As I’ve said in the past if you have a fever today in Nigeria, it’s more likely it’s going to be due to malaria than due to COVID infection and people need to be able to access care.
‘The PTF will continue to protect the health and safety of health workers both in the public as well as the private sector. We are appealing to the private sector facilities to make sure they have adequate PPE to protect their staff.
‘From the government side and from PTF we will continue to engage with the private sector to train them on infection control processes. But PPE will primarily be given to public hospitals and to other frontline workers.
‘We expect private facilities to make adequate arrangements for their own PPE. If they are having difficulty accessing this, they should please get in touch with us and we can point them in the right direction,’ he said.
Dr Aliyu urged Nigerians to learn to live with the new realities of COVID-19, saying ‘we are still far off from the permanent solution to the pandemic such as the availability of a vaccine.
‘All of us must take responsibility in protecting ourselves and others by adhering to the health protocols and lockdown guidelines while we go about our lives in this what we call the “new normal” because, post-COVID, things will not be the same.’