Response by the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire to questions filled by journalists during the PTF Briefing on Monday, 27th July, 2020
On the 2020 World Hepatitis Day:
“Thank you, the questions about Hepatitis, yes it is true that tomorrow is World Hepatitis Day and we are going to mark it at the Ministry of Health; there will be a conference, press conference and I’ll be giving a speech. In 2018, Nigeria conducted the National AIDs Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) and we used that opportunity to also see the prevalence of Hepatitis in Nigeria and at that time. It was determined that Hepatitis B is present in 8.1% and Hepatitis C in 1.1% of the population; that is the prevalence.
Now, for those who do not know, Hepatitis is a disease of the liver, it is the inflammation of the liver and in this case, caused by a virus, just like a virus like any other virus, specific to the liver and types of virus A, B, C. Nigeria has been responding to Hepatitis situation with vaccination since 2004 and its provided by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the coverage as for this year was 59%, so what we need to be able to do is to expand the coverage by looking for more resources to get more vaccines and also, more opportunities for immunizations and reaching those areas that have not been reached, particularly the hard to reach areas. So, yes, the NPHCDA is the one not the NHIS, is the one conducting that programme of vaccination.”
What I told you is that viral hepatitis is already included, you get a birth dose of it, since 2004 you get a birth dose that is given and the coverage is 59%, so birth dose means that it is routinely given, ok, so it is not something that health insurance has to spring up and start delivering. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency runs that programme and they give you birth dose, the coverage right now, according to latest information is 59% and the health insurance finances these things but the Primary Health Care is the one that carries it out, through the primary health care centres’ routine immunization, it is supposed to go into routine immunization, it is supposed to be strengthened, we are in the third year of an agreement with GAVI to finance vaccines, it’s a 3Billion dollar deal, of which Nigeria is paying 1.97Billion over time , this is the third year of it, and GAVI is bringing 1.07 Billion, so that programme guarantees this package of vaccines.
On testing centres for COVID-19:
“Now the other question is about the testing centres, yes, our plan is to have all hospitals, General Hospitals and Federal Hospitals as sample collection sites, but we can’t guarantee that all of them will be able to do that at night, we are encouraging them to have a holding area, to have the facilities that will enable for them to bring human resources to be trained and we’ll be given the necessary well with all, the personal protective equipment and the sample and the kit and a mechanism for recovery of samples collected. But surely anybody who has any symptoms should endeavour to go for testing by day time, things slow down by night, but I can assure you that places with high burden and high specification like the National Hospital and also the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada may be in a position to conduct such test, I mean to take samples at all times, but it's not something so urgent that you have to wake up at 1 o’clock in the night to go and test, except you have symptoms, you are very sick, in which case you can go to known areas where you can be put in a holding room, until a test can be done; our plan is to make sure that the point of care, the major points of care have PCR machine, a GeneXpert machine so that they can do their own test once patients who are suspected to have COVID appear, so you don’t have to take a swap and wait for days, for your result to come, so we have put that one quite clearly in our plans to have the major treatment centres, be equipped with their own point of care diagnostic machine which will generally be faster operating GeneXpert machine.
But again, I will use the opportunity to urge all citizens, if you test positive and you are over a certain age, let me say 50 or you have co-morbidities that you know about, go and register your presence somewhere in any of the treatment centres, and if for any reason you haven’t done that and you feel any symptoms do not wait until the next day, do not say ok, you’ll wait until later, go immediately to a well known treatment centre and register your presence in there so that you don’t fall into distress at an odd hour and then you are looking at that time for help when things tend to slow down at night. So, that is the advice I have for all citizens to enable us reduce the case fatality rate even further.
Compilation by Blessing Efem
For: The Director, Information, Media & Public Relations.