The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has urged resident doctors in the country to call off their strike action, saying the present government will keep to its promises to them.
Dr Ehanire made the appeal on Friday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
While reacting to claims that the government has not kept to its promises to the health workers, Dr. Ehanire said the President Muhammadu Buhari government has a track record of being sympathetic to the people and keeping its promises.
“We have made it clear to them (doctors) that this government is the most sincere and serious government this country has ever had. His (Buhari) word is his bond,” the minister assured.
According to him, “This government has a record of being sympathetic to people, of meeting its obligations and keeping to its promises.”
He recalled that the present government paid the Nigerian Airways pension arrears as well as kept to other promises it made to Nigerians.
Doing ‘Things Differently’
The Minister, however, lamented that it is hard to convince people who do not want to be convinced about the government’s sincerity, adding that a lot has changed in the country since this present administration came on board.
He, therefore, called on the striking doctors to reconsider their action for the interest of the country, assuring that government will keep to its end of the bargain.
“This government does things differently,” he explained. “This is a government that says its word and keeps to its words. We would not do anything to hurt you. We work in your (doctors) interest.”
According to him, Nigeria cannot afford to have the doctors on strike at this time when the health system is strained globally due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Ehanire added: “We are going through a very difficult time with other countries and this is quite clearly not the time to add more to our problems by deciding to go on strike.
“I am worried that we are probably the first and only country where doctors have decided to go on strike.”
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has explained how Nigeria can reduce the death rate as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Addressing reporters on Thursday in Abuja, he urged Nigerians to see the increase in the number of confirmed cases as a warning that fatalities would increase too.
Ehanire, who spoke at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, however, said there was no cause for alarm as certain measures could be taken to control the death toll.
He noted that a majority of fatalities recorded were over 50 years and those with pre-existing ailments such as diabetes, cancer, and hypertension, among others.
The minister urged the people to specially protect those who fall in such groups, adding that they should be encouraged to stay at home to limit them from getting exposed to COVID-19.
He stressed the need for them to wear face masks once outside their houses, or when inside the house with persons who may have been exposed.
According to Ehanire, such categories of people must observe all other non-pharmaceutical advisories, including frequent hand washing, social distancing, respiratory hygiene, and use of sanitiser among others.
He urged them to avoid going to market, worship centres, and places where there can be a crowd.
The minister advised all persons in the vulnerable group who tested positive to immediately go to a treatment centre, in their own interest.
He warned that by staying at home, complications could arise easily and suddenly, especially at a time when there would be no immediate help available.
Read the full text of the minister’s remarks at the PTF briefing below:
PRESS BRIEFING BY HON. MINISTER OF HEALTH, DR. OSAGIE EHANIRE AT THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 PRESS BRIEFING ON THURSDAY 18TH JUNE, 2020
The Nigeria Center for Disease Control yesterday announced 587 new confirmed covid-19 cases, increasing the total tally to 17,735. We have treated and discharged 5,967 persons and 469 persons have sadly been lost to the disease.
We have said that the increasing number of cases should be a warning that fatalities will increase too; but there are measures we can take, to limit case fatality rate.
1 Since majority of fatalities are over 50 years of age, or have pre-existing ailments like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, HIV, etc, this group of citizens has to be specially protected.
2 This protection begins with limiting their exposure to risks of covid19 infection by urging stay at home, except there is urgent and dire need to go out.
3 To wear a face mask or a covering at any time, once outside the house, or when inside the house with persons who may have been exposed.
4 To observe all other non-pharmaceutical advisory, like frequent hand washing, social distancing, respiratory hygiene, sanitizer use, etc.
5 I must emphasize that going to places where there can be a crowd, like market or also places of worship carries risk of increased exposure. l also stress that being in a closed room increases the risk of exposure to infection in proportion to the number of people and the length of time spent with them, because the likelihood of presence of a positive person increases with the number and infection with time of exposure.
6 All persons in the vulnerable group who test positive should go to a treatment center immediately, in their own best interest. A vuln5person is not among those who should risk staying at home, because complications can arise easily and suddenly or at an odd hour of the day or night when there will be no immediate help available.
7 Any person who tested positive and opted to stay home or elsewhere should move to a treatment centre at the first sign of fever or shortness of breath. A delay can be fatal because the disease progression can be unpredictable and faster than imagined.
8 Witherspoon these important measures, we could mitigate the fatality rate. The novel coronavirus is still among us and is infecting people daily, including prominent members of the society. Friends and family have an increasingly important role to play in helping to guide compliance with this advisory. Till it goes away, whenever that is, we must take extreme precaution when going to public places.
I also had the honour yesterday, of joining Mr. President at the China-Africa Extraordinary Summit on Solidarity Against the COVID-19 pandemic, where the desirability of sharing knowledge from research and experience was emphasized, as PTF Chair has reported. This is of value to us because China has considerable experience with covid19.
Earlier yesterday, I signed a bilateral agreement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on cooperation in the area of public health and medical sciences. The agreement is to start cooperation between both countries in these areas:
(a) Exchanging experience in public health and health sciences
(b) Facilitation of visits by scientists and Exchanging information in research.
On Monday, 15th June, 2020, I inaugurated the governing council of the Pharmacist Council of Nigeria, where the Council was charged to refocus aspects of the profession to meet up with the realities of today as the Covid-19 Pandemic has brought medicine security to the fore front.
We have updated the case management guidelines with reviewed changes like discharge criteria and medication used for the treatment of cases. Our treatment centres will be getting an advisory to test applicability of a drug recently repurposed and found effective for treatment of COVID-19
The engagement of States and support for them in management of covid19 will continue to increase with increased capacity building. The Ministry of Health will also be prioritizing the procurement of oxygen generators alongside ventilators as our experience so far shows that oxygen supplementation is in high demand in treatment.
The Minister for Health, Osagie Ehanire, has said that the ongoing trials with indigenous herbs for COVID-19, have not yielded any results yet.
He said this on Friday, during a special Democracy Day programme on Channels Television, while responding to questions about Nigeria’s current efforts in the fight against the pandemic.
The minister made mention of the samples of the traditional remedies which Nigeria recently received from Madagascar.
According to him, they have been given to research centers and “the Nigeria Center for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, the Institute of Medical Research in Yaba, and also the organs of the Ministry of Science and Technology are looking into these herbal remedies.”
“The indigenous herbs that have also been developed for trial have also not yet yielded the results,” he added.
About 60 per cent of the 979 deaths reported in Kano State may have been triggered by coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 which held in Abuja.
He explained that the figures were the outcome of an investigation carried out by the Federal Government to unravel the circumstances that led to the death of hundreds of residents in Kano.
According to the minister, the deaths were reported in April from eight municipal local government areas of the state.
He noted that the initial figure was 43 deaths per day at the peak before it settled at the rate of 11 deaths per day, weeks later.
Ehanire revealed that about 56 per cent of the deaths were recorded at home and 38 per cent were confirmed in the hospital.
He added that investigation indicated that between 50 to 60 per cent of the deaths were as a result of COVID-19 in the face of pre-existing health challenges.
The minister informed reporters at the briefing that most of the victims were aged above 65, saying a majority died due to their inability to access routine healthcare at the time.
He appealed to Nigerians to continue to wear face masks at all times in the public as is a valuable safety precaution against the disease.
Ehanire also urged them to observe respiratory hygiene, wash their hands regularly, use sanitisers, and adhere to physical distancing.
Read the minister’s remarks at the briefing below:
PRESS BRIEFING BY HON. MINISTER OF HEALTH, DR. OSAGIE EHANIRE AT THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON COVID-19 PRESS BRIEFING ON MONDAY 8TH JUNE, 2020
Saturday 6th June 2020 marked 100 days since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nigeria. In that period, we have seen a lot and learned a lot about this novel virus, about which so little was known at inception. I used that occasion to give a live update on our Nation’s response on the Federal Ministry of Health social media platforms.
In these 100 days, we have tested over 76,800 persons, recorded 12,486 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 35 States and FCT, successfully treated and discharged 3,959 persons, but sadly lost 354 Nigerians, most of whom had underlying illnesses. May their souls rest in peace.
Our response during this period has been focused and targeted; at the initial phase, on screening travellers at Points of Entry, testing for virus importation, tracing their contacts and isolating positive cases.
Since our entry into the community transmission phase, we have begun more aggressive tracking and testing and increased our laboratory network capacity from 5 to presently 30 molecular laboratories, with a plan for at least one laboratory in every state. This way, turnaround time is reduced to a minimum and case finding and management will run smoothly.
Management of infected cases is being reviewed and improved, with revised Clinical Guidelines to be published in accordance with the learnings and evolving dynamics associated with COVID-19 and global best practices.
This includes new discharge protocols, treatment regimen for asymptomatic or symptomatic cases with various clinical conditions. We continue to collaborate with States and the FCT with regard to their management of cases with provision of commodities, training and other technical support where needed.
The 2-day Webinar held on the 3rd and 4th of June on the effect of COVID-19 on health and care management of the elderly was conducted in collaboration with the West African Health Organization (WAHO), and took a critical look at various aspects of the impact of the disease on the elderly, who are usually at higher risk of infection.
The outcome of the webinar provides grounds for policy direction for care of the elderly during and beyond COVID-19. The general recommendation is that senior citizens are vulnerable and should stay at home most times and wear a mask once outside their home.
This morning, the Federal Ministry of Health received the report of the Ministerial Task Team that went to Kano, to support the COVID-19 response with commodities, training, technical and confidence-building measures.
The visit was extended to fact-finding excursions to offer support to five other states. With the observations and recommendations from the three-week assignment, the committee developed a Strategic Incident Action Plan to strengthen the coordination capacity of the health workers and improve community engagement in line with our response plan.
While over 150 health workers had been infected at the time of their arrival, there was no report of infection among health workers who had received training on infection prevention and control, thus restoring confidence. The intervention of the ministerial task force has been a game-changer for Kano and some northern States.
With regard to unexplained deaths in Kano which occurred in April, the team confirmed from graveyard records, that a total of 979 deaths were recorded in 8 municipal LGA in the state at a rate of 43 deaths per day, with a peak in the second week of April.
By the beginning of May, the death rate had reduced to the 11 deaths per day it used to be. The verbal autopsy revealed that about 56% of deaths had occurred at home while 38% were in a hospital. With circumstantial evidence as all to go by, investigation suggests that between 50-60% of the deaths may have been triggered by or due to COVID-19, in the face of preexisting ailments. Most fatalities were over 65 years of age.
I thank Dr Gwarzo, Prof Nasidi, members of the team, especially the contingent from Irrua, for diligently carrying out this assignment and achieving their targets.
It is gratifying to note that they all returned safely and had no incident of contracting the infection. I also commend His Excellency, the Governor of Kano State for his support to the team throughout.
Finally, I wish to again remind everyone that wearing your face mask at all times in the public, or even inside your house, when not sure of your company, is a valuable safety precaution for you, your family and friends.
Be advised to observe respiratory hygiene, wash hands regularly, use sanitizers and adhere to physical distancing.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on Tuesday, said a study carried out by a research institution in the Federal Ministry of Health revealed that not all sanitisers in circulation are up to standard.
Ehanire said this while addressing journalists at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He also gave an advisory on identifying standard sanitisers in the market stressing the importance of checking the NAFDAC number and ingredients used in producing the sanitiser.
“I will start by using the opportunity to issue an advisory on sanitiser. You will see a lot of sanitisers out in the market. A study carried out by research institution in the Ministry of Health has shown not all of them are up to standard.
“In buying sanitisers, there is an advisory I will like to share. You must look first of all at the NAFDAC number. A sanitiser should have a NAFDAC number.
“Secondly, it should have a place where the ingredients are displayed. You must see that it contains a minimum of 60% alcohol. If it is anything different from that, the sanitiser is not going to do the job you think it is doing,” he said.
The Minister also gave an update on health workers who have recovered from COVID-19. He said the health workers are currently being observed for a period of 14 days before they return to work.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has called on medical doctors and other healthcare professionals to shun unauthorised treatment of persons infected with coronavirus (COVID-19).
He made the call on Thursday during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“All healthcare professionals and associated personnel should diligently follow safety infection prevention and control protocols – both inside and outside healthcare facilities, and not to indulge in unauthorised treatment of COVID-19 cases,” the minister said.
He explained that the appeal was important to reduce the incidences of health workers getting infected with the disease.
Ehanire noted that the government was committed to increasing its capacity for testing for coronavirus cases in the country.
He said, “21 laboratories nationwide are now operational for COVID-19 testing as we work to drive up demands.”
On the situation in Kano, the minister noted that a task team from the Federal Ministry of Health has been deployed in the state.
According to him, the team is working with the state government and is fully engaged with activities that strongly emphasise training and capacity building for all personnel.
Ehanire explained that this was to help rebuild the manpower in Kano and the federal health facilities in the state, as well as the non-medical personnel.
He revealed that laboratories in Kano have been directed to work in shifts to reduce the turnaround time for testing and enable the faster return of results.
The minister also hinted that the returnees from Dubai would be tested and those whose results return positive would be taken for treatment.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, says Nigeria and the rest of the world have experienced and survived previous epidemics so he is optimistic that the world would also overcome the COVID-19 soon.
Although he admitted that the coronavirus has crippled the world’s economies, he said it would soon be a thing of the past in Nigeria.
The Minister stated this on Friday during a daily press briefing in Abuja by the Presidential Task Force on the coronavirus disease.
“We have survived many past epidemics but COVID-19 has been the most difficult and damaging that nations and healthcare systems have faced in recent times,” he said.
The Federal Government has announced plans to deploy ambulances as well as a fact-finding committee to Kano State.
This is to ascertain the true extent of the effect of the COVID-19 in the state, as well as to improve the state’s efforts in fighting the spread of the disease.
The Minister for Health, Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this on Tuesday during the Presidential Task Force briefing on the COVID-19 in Abuja.
“I know his Excellency, the governor, to be someone who is very well interested in the health of his people and he will be receiving a high-power, a nine-man delegation sent to Kano, by the Federal Ministry of Health today on a fact-finding mission and also to offer support to the COVID-19 response in Kano,” the minister said.
This comes amidst reports of multiple deaths in the state as a result of the COVID-19.
But the state government has termed the reports as fake news, insisting that many of the deaths being reported are not attributed to the virus.
Fresh concerns were, however, raised last week, after testing came to a halt in the state, due to insufficient testing kits.
The number of infections in the state has now risen to 77, while three persons are said to have died from the virus.
Thankfully, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) announced in the early hours of today that testing has now resumed in the state.
“Thanks to incredible efforts of a joint Team from & our partners, the #COVID-19 lab at AKTH, Kano is back up & testing has resumed at the 2nd lab at Bayero University Kano will be activated tomorrow, not where we want to be yet, but will #keeppushing”, the NCDC DG, Chikwe Ihekweazu tweeted.
To also support that drive, the Minister for Health, announced that some ambulances would be sent to the state.
“Ambulances are also to be deployed to Kano to support the state on the provision of emergency patient transportation services”.
The Minister for Health, Osagie Ehanire, says the Nigerian army has agreed to support isolation centres in the country with security as the need arises.
Ehanire said this on Tuesday while answering questions around security during the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja.
“We have had to speak to security forces about that and I can say quite happily and proudly that the Nigerian Army has agreed to support isolation centres with security as the need arises”, the minister said.
“So we shall be applying for their support in situations where we need security for all our patients and also those who are awaiting results or who have been tested.”
Speaking about other efforts being made by the government to fight the spread of the disease, Ehanire said: “The Ministry of Health has set up a ministerial expert advisory committee, made up of eminent Nigerian virologists, public health experts, infectious disease and diagnostic experts and others, to study the evolution and development of the COVID-19 outbreak, especially as we go into this community transmission phase.”
The minister also responded to concerns about the increasing number of cases.
According to him, that could be “evidence of improved testing but also stronger signs of community transmissions”.
“The highly propagated social measures like social distancing and postponement of all non-essential travel have had only limited success,” he admitted.
He, however, stressed that it is a reminder that we need to redouble our efforts to comply with advisories, “especially as restrictions have been eased”.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday, announced an extension of the lockdown in key cities like the FCT Abuja, Ogun State and Lagos by one week, after which he asked the states to begin to ease the lockdown in phases to avoid to a total breakdown of the economy.
With this, Ehanire believes that “much more stringent compliance” to hygiene measures such as constant washing of hands, wearing of masks and maintaining physical distance, “will be required from all of us in order not to have any reversal.”
He also stated that provisions will be made for “holding bay for suspected cases before their results come out.”
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, says President Muhammadu Buhari will determine when to lift the lockdown order in Lagos, Abuja and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Ehanire disclosed this on Sunday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics regarding efforts made by the Federal Government to tackle COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
“The President will make that announcement in his own time. We will give him the facts, he will consider the facts and make his own announcements using his own wisdom,” the Minister said.
In order to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country, President Buhari had on May 29 declared a total lockdown.
While directing the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, Buhari asked all citizens in the affected areas to stay in their homes, adding that travel to or from other states should be postponed.
Two weeks after the expiration, the President extended the lockdown on April 13 for another two weeks.
But when asked if it is professionally wise to relax the lockdown or to extend it, the Minister did not affirm or oppose the question.
He believes that every country has the right to balance the medical and health-related benefits from the economic-related benefits.
According to him, the decision of whether or not to extend the lockdown has to be tailored according to the needs of Nigerians.
“What happens is that every country, you balance the medical and the health-related benefits from the economic-related benefits because you have an economy you don’t want to kill and you also have the health side that you don’t want to destroy.
“It’s a very delicate balance which you need to do. All countries do that; it’s not only in our country. Even in the United States, they have that debate all the time. Do we open the economy now or do we not open it now?” he said.
Speaking on the mysterious deaths in Kano, the Minister explained that a delegation will be sent to the state to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the loss of lives there.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says about 40 health workers have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
Dr Ehanire disclosed this on Thursday during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He, therefore, appealed to medical workers in the frontline of the COVID-19 fight to always protect themselves while giving treatment to infected patients.
“I applaud all our health workers in the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government will continue to provide you with the necessary protective equipment,” the minister said.
He added, “I urge you all to take all the necessary precautions for your own safety, please do not try to treat patients without using adequate PPE.
“Frontline workers must undertake refresher courses training in IPC at intervals. This advice is necessary due to the number of health workers who have tested positive – they are over 40 now.”
The minister noted that Nigeria recorded 91 new infections on Wednesday, out of which 74 cases were confirmed in Lagos.
He explained that the high number of cases reported recently was as a result of increased testing and community transmission.
Dr Ehanire stated that even though the testing centres have the capacity to test above 1,000 samples daily, only about 600 people come in daily for testing.
According to him, there is a huge number of people who tested positive but have not developed any symptoms.
In his opening remarks at the briefing, the PTF chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, stressed the need for Nigerians to cooperate with efforts targeted at flattening the curve of COVID-19 in the country.
He also raised concerns about the noncompliance of some private hospitals with the government’s directives, saying they still treat cases of COVID-19 secretly.
The SGF, therefore, called on owners of private hospitals across the country who want to treat COVID-19 patients to seek approval from the Federal Ministry of Health.
He also appealed to survivors of COVID-19 to tell their stories in order to encourage others to come forward for a test to curb the spread of the disease.