Highlights of responses by the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora (who responded in Yoruba) to questions raised at the PTF on COVID-19 Press Briefing of Friday, 8th May, 2020.
On the report that some healthcare workers at Abakaliki (Ebonyi State) are restless given their conditions of Service:
The Honourable Minister for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire stated that he is not aware of any issues between health care workers in Ebonyi State being restless or agitating for better welfare. He promised that he will look into it. “I think it should most probably be State Health Workers, I will look into it. This is not the time we want to see that healthcare workers are in any way not being happy with the Service.”
On distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the States:
The Honourable Minister for Health, Dr. Ehanire said his Ministry is trying to ensure that “Each State gets PPE according to the cases that they have or they project that they would have. If we hear that they are running low in certain areas, we just rush things in there, very quickly in order to make sure that they don’t have shortages or they fall into a situation that they start putting themselves at risks, we will do everything we can to make sure that that doesn’t arise.”
On drugs being used for COVID-19:
The Honourable Minister for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed that Nigerian clinicians are participating in WHO-sponsored study or solidarity to get experience all over the world, on the efficacy of certain drugs and others. He said the study is going on, they are participating in these clinical trials of these drugs and the results will come out when they have found out those suitable across all countries.
On indigenous medicines:
The Honourable Minister reiterated that there are processes, whether they are herbal medicines or inventions, he said they are referred to the Nigeria Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) or to the Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine of Federal Ministry of health for evaluation, at the end of the day, all findings are sent to National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for examination and to do all the necessary tests. “Nothing needs to go through the Ministry and you can also approach NAFDAC by yourself.”
On herbal mixture and inventions:
The Honourable Minister of State, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora (who spoke in Yoruba) disclosed that Federal Ministry of Health has a plan to accept and invite those behind all claims, entries and trial herbal mixture and inventions against COVID-19 to round table conference. He said FMoH is wary of simply admitting these herbal mixtures and concoctions on patients. He declared that there are procedures already laid down.
Dr. Mamora also disclosed that NAFDAC has to be consulted to determine if the herbal mixtures and concoctions are fit for human consumption. It is after NAFDAC has certified that such herbal mixtures could be subjected to clinical trials on volunteers. The Minister also revealed that the volunteers sign undertakings. Even when the mixtures have been so tried, the side effects of taking such mixtures must be considered.
The Honourable Minister of State said plans are afoot to have all claimants come around to understand the process of certification of drugs by FMoH and for the Ministry to also appreciate the claimants.
On the COVID-19 positive patient who escaped from isolation in Niger State:
Dr. Mamora said what the escapee COVID-19 positive patient did by escaping from isolation is condemnable because she was trying to infect more people in the community. For such action, the Honourable Minister of State said, the Niger State Government must search the patient out and bring her to book. He therefore strongly appeal to all to know that isolation of COVID-19 positive patient is to prevent the spread of the disease. She must therefore be fished out and given necessary treatment.
On those who are quarantined yet demanding for special treatments:
The Honourable Minister of State appealed to such persons to bear with how things turn out for everyone in the country. He cautioned that this is not the time to be demanding for special treatment the situation does not call for it, the Minister concluded.