6 coronavirus patients get a clean bill of health on recovering from the infection. All six persons are resident in Lagos state, the hardest hit by the disease.
The disease control outfit, NCDC said as at Wednesday March 25, the total number of cases stood at 51 with two recoveries and one death.
Lagos State health commissioner Akin Abayomi in an interview on Nigeria Info said, “Tomorrow, we are going to discharge six of the (coronavirus) patients in Lagos.
“Our admitted patients will go down theoretically to 18.”
In the nearly four years since Chikwe Ihekweazu became Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, his agency has had to deal with numerous infectious disease outbreaks. His team responded to thousands of cases of Yellow Fever; a severe outbreak of meningitis that affected more than 14,000 people; several cases of polio; a massive surge of Cholera that struck 43,000 people in 2018; the first cases of monkeypox in decades; and the largest outbreak of Lassa fever in history. Now novel coronavirus threatens Africa as well as the rest of the world. (Think Global Health)
Do I deal with 600 cases of Lassa or focus on COVID-19? The reality is, I can’t choose between either of those. We’ve got to be prepared for both.
(Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, speaks during a press briefing on the outbreak of Monkeypox in Abuja, Nigeria on October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)
Nigeria’s stride during a health crisis has become a case study many developed nations have been trying to unravel since the ebola crisis.
The lessons from the Ebola outbreak is, everybody becomes interested when there’s a crisis… If there’s one good thing that I hope will come out of this coronavirus outbreak, it is an appreciation across society of the potential impact that a single virus has on the bottom line of companies—not to talk about on the health of humans.
Unbeknownst to many is that the Nigeria Health sector had already put in place measures to handle such crises long before been hit by COVID-19.
A medical staff wears protective gear at a new section specialized in receiving anyone who may have been infected with coronavirus at The Quinquinie Hospital in Douala, Cameroon Reuters
Invest in epidemic preparedness before an outbreak occurs
First, invest in epidemic preparedness before an outbreak occurs. The Director-General of NCDC, Chikwe Ihekweazu believes that nations should build systems in ‘peacetime’ that can be used during outbreaks. Working with subnational governments and partners, the NCDC since 2017 has been supporting the Nigerian States to set up Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOCs).
At the last count, 23 States in Nigeria have set up PHEOCs. The PHEOCs serve as an epidemic intelligent hub for effective communication and efficient resource management during any outbreak.
Transparency and Openness
The index Coronavirus case recorded in Nigeria was reported within 48 hours of the Italian arriving in Nigeria. The federal minister of health, NCDC and the Lagos state commissioner of health did not waste time informing Nigerians.
They have also continuously followed that with regular updates. The NCDC now has a microsite to provide regular updates to Nigerians and the international community. Other information available on the microsite are videos on risk reduction and summaries of the global Coronavirus situation report.
Speed and clusters of medical hubs
Within weeks after the Coronavirus outbreak began, NCDC, with the support of partners, upgraded four of its reference laboratories to diagnose Coronavirus.
This led to a quick diagnosis of the Italian despite his falling ill in a neighboring state to Lagos. These reference laboratories are located strategically around the country so that delays in moving samples are reduced.
NCDC in its rightful place as the national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection, and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies. President Buhari backed the legal mandate with approval for NCDC to receive 2.5% of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund – a funding mechanism designed to improve primary health care in Nigeria. This is unprecedented in the history of health security in Nigeria.
The concept of every country trying to look only within its own borders is completely, mindbogglingly, a waste of everybody’s time.