The Health Sector Reform Coalition (HSRC) has praised the Federal Government on its fight against the coronavirus, but called for greater government actions to flatten the rising curve of infections by the virus.
Dr Chizoba Wonodi, who is the Co-chair, HSRC COVID-19 Response Task Team, lauded the government on Wednesday via a Zoom interaction with newsmen.
Wonodi, who said that the government’s early response to the outbreak of the virus was commendable, described its initial interventions as positive and impactful.
“The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and Presidential Task Force (PTF) swiftly implemented actions that could interrupt transmission in a rapidly evolving epidemic.
“State governments have also started to act.
“We note the exemplary response of the Lagos State Government through whose borders the virus was introduced in Nigeria.
“The private sector and philanthropists have risen to the call, donating billions of naira to fight this virus,” she explained.
She said that HSRC, a national collaboration of more than 100 diverse actors in the Nigerian health sector, welcomed the various interventions and social responses highlighted by the President in his address to the nation.
According to her, the group is looking forward to a comprehensive blueprint for addressing the pandemic.
She said that although the government started well, much more needed to be done to reduce transmission of the virus, namely: identify, isolate, and treat cases; communicate to and engage communities; and minimise the social impact of the epidemic and its response.
added that given the current state of the health system in Nigeria and the poverty among its
citizens, national response strategies should aim at protecting both lives and livelihoods.
The co-chair said that global guidance should be adapted to produce control strategies that would fit the country’s peculiarities.
“Testing for COVID-19 is grossly inadequate and may mask the true number of cases, especially as up to 85 per cent of the infected may be asymptomatic yet capable of transmitting the virus.
“As of April 5th, 2020 only 4,000 tests had been conducted and states have inadequate capacity to test,” she said.
According to her, guidelines to ensure standards in private sector purchase of kits and establishment of testing sites are needed urgently to expand access to testing linked to NCDC reporting platforms.
“Restriction of export of PPEs by other countries may further constrain availability.
“It is important to urgently incentivise local production of PPEs and ensre
that production meets standard specifications.
“Nigeria should join others to call for global equity in access to
PPEs, test kits, vaccines, and proven therapeutics as soon as they become available.
“The moratorium on repayment of TraderMoni, MarketMoni, and FarmerMoni are welcome. So is the directive to immediately pay the conditional cash transfers.
“These palliatives are a good start but need to be extended well beyond their current coverage.
“State governments do not have capacity for the extra-budgetary spending required to mount an effective sub-national action against COVID-19.
“Yet the most critical need for upgrading and equipping isolation and treatment centres in readiness for the epidemic is at the state level,” Wonodi said.
Edited By: Angela Okisor/Emmanuel Yashim
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