Highlight Of Response By Honourable Minister Of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire During the Presidential Task Force On COVID-19 Press Briefing Held On Monday, 1st June, 2020.
On threats by National Association of Resident Doctors to embark on strike:
“As we speak, negotiation is going on with the Minister of Labour, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health is there representing us, and most of the points raised by the Resident Doctors are points that have easy solutions that can be solved.”
“Some of them are actually from way back, they are not new, but the ones regarding Personal Protective Equipments, yes that we have actually addressed, PPEs are being supplied as requested and as needed; so they are keeping a very good eye on the inventory and supply chain. There was a time in the past when we had some constraints, but we have actually gone past that level now and there are plans to continue to increase the stockpile of PPEs that we have.”
“So, I'll also use this opportunity to speak to the Resident Doctors and urge them not to carry out that threat at this time, everything is being done to make sure that all the questions are answered and I also want to say that if they have any kind of grudges of that nature in the future, they should use the avenue of communication, my office is always open and they can call me up or write to me, to discuss these issues at the Ministerial level before it gets to the public level; to use all avenues of collaboration, all of us are members of the NMA and we too were once Resident Doctors, so we understand your position and we'll be able to make sure we see to your needs. Thank you.”
On taking ownership of COVID-19 and responsibilities for:
“At community level, there are responsibilities that are delegated to the community where we engage, perhaps after that the Ministry engages with community leaders, traditional leaders, religious leaders in trying to make some health related issues clear and to reach down to the grassroots, so in this particular phase of COVID-19, it's essentially a health issue and the emphasis I have made many times is that there are aspects that the Federal Government will be involved in, there are aspects for the States to be involved in and particularly, aspects where community leaders and the citizens will have to take ownership of and drive. I'll use the example of wearing mask, for example it protects individuals. It serves a dual purpose: if two people are together and both are wearing mask, generally they are protecting themselves. If you go into the market, to public and in areas where you are likely to encounter people who are not necessarily able to observe social distancing, your mask protects you.” “So the messaging that goes out is a messaging that is expected to be driven across the board.
The policy comes in from the Federal Government and also in consultation with the States; that's why we hold the National Council of Health and also the States involve the Local Governments and then right down to the community level; so it's extremely important now, you've also heard us say that we've sent missions to States. I was going to say that today. Right now as we speak, the mission from Federal Ministry of Health has arrived Lagos, made up of, led by the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, comprising representatives from the Department of Hospital Services, Department of Public Health, Department of Family Health and NCDC, they are all going to see how Lagos is doing, Lagos has its own peculiar challenges though; they will find out ways in which Government, the Federal Government can offer support and also offer suggestions and also tell, share experiences and learn one or two things that Lagos is doing that can be replicated in other areas.”
“Before now we have spoken of similarly missions to Kano where teams from the Federal Government, from the Federal Ministry of Health, from other hospitals, in fact, I have mentioned here that the teams from Irrua that have been supporting many of the other hospitals and State teams from Lagos have also gone to support Kano, so there is a lot of mutual support that is going on within the Ministry of Health and same goes for supply of equipments.”
“You have heard NCDC mention how many laboratories they have supported or opened to try and diversify the access to testing opportunities, in fact, we are prioritizing Federal Medical Centre Lokoja and also the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital for the Genexpert machine testing, once the test kits are validated, the test kits are in the country, they need to be validated by the Medical Laboratory Science Council and they will start operating; those places will be prioritized to begin their own testing and service delivery.”
“So as for the second wave, yes I believe many of us will probably speak on this, the experience in many areas is that once you have a lockdown relaxed, there is a new wave that comes up which they call the second wave. Sometimes it's very frightening some countries quickly reapply their lockdown or their regulations; here we are aware of that and anticipating that if anything like that happens, we will need to be able to counter with measures, that is why we have emphasized the non-pharmaceutical measures, emphasized that there is a contribution that has to come from the populace and that it is not only driven by Government, it is driven by everybody, every citizen, so if we practice this non-pharmaceutical interventions - stay home particularly those who are vulnerable, spend more time at home, if you are sick stay in your home, wear your mask once you leave your house, particularly if you are going to an area where you cannot control how many people will be around you, and even if you live in a house or in a home that has many people and you are not sure of their status, you can also still keep your mask on at home.” “If you are not sure of the status of the people you live with or you live in a crowded environment, yes, you are safer with your mask on.”
“So with all these non-pharmaceutical measures, we do hope that we can temper the second wave if there is one. We will continue to monitor, continue the risk communication and community engagement to keep everybody on their toes that if we do our own, play our part we can help in reducing or in fact, probably eliminate that second wave, but it depends on all of us, not all on Government, that's what I think concerns the Ministry of Health here.”