ANALYSIS: COVID-19, Cholera Threaten Nigeria Health System

 ANALYSIS: COVID-19, Cholera Threaten Nigeria Health System

Nigeria’s health care system might be under pressure to intensify efforts as it battles the increasing cases of COVID-19 and Cholera outbreaks in some states.

COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria had entered its third wave after the recent upsurge in reported cases.

Nigeria now has over 168,000 cases of the virus with over 164,000 discharged and 2122 deaths.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, had in June, stressed that the country was conscious of the third wave and was putting every necessary effort to fully equip the health care system in response to fighting the virus.

“Nigeria has so far escaped the worst of COVID-19 and the dire predictions made about us. We may even seem to be doing well, but I wish to emphasize that we must still be on strict preventive alert, because of the COVID-19 third wave that is sweeping across the globe. Cases have been rising in one African country after the other and health systems are getting stressed in countries like Uganda.

“The Federal Government placed an order for 38 Oxygen Generation Plants, one in every State, with Lagos having two, due to its high burden. The Global Fund is funding the repair of 30 non-operational plants, and shall in addition build 12 new oxygen plants, to be so spatially located across Nigeria, in such a way that gaps in supply are filled and health facilities in Nigeria can access oxygen less than 100km from an oxygen plant.

“Over 420 brand new oxygen cylinders are in order, to support distribution and availability, along with 12 liquid oxygen tanks of 10,000L each, with vaporizers, to be also stationed where we can refill cylinders easily. This will expand access to oxygen nationwide and make it available to treat patients with other conditions, such as asthma, pneumonia, sickle cell anemia, among others,” he said.

In a recent development, the Lagos State government had reinstated protocol measures to control the spread of the virus. 

Cholera Outbreak Suffices

Amid this third wave, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Chikwe Ihekweazu, on July 10, 2021, said the country reported 14,343 suspected cases of cholera between Jan. and June 27, 2021, in 15 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja with 325 persons dying from it.

The states affected include Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Kebbi, Cross-River, Nasarawa, Niger, and the FCT.

The report said: "Of the reported cases since the beginning of the year, 27.6% are aged 5-14 years.

"Of All Suspected Cases, 51% are males and 49% are females.

"There has been an increase in the number of new cases in the last two weeks. Zamfara(191), Bauchi(2163) Kano(891) Kaduna(129) and Plateau(82) account for 95.2% of 3,543 cases reported in the last two weeks (24and25).

"Since the beginning of the year, a total of 345 samples were collected with positive cases as follows-162 RDT positive only;55 culture-positive; 217 RDT and culture positive). The Test Positivity Rate(TPR)for laboratory confirmation by culture is 15.9 percent."

Ihekweazu noted that the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), multi-sectoral national, which coordinates the cholera national response activities had begun a thorough observation of the situation.

“The center has been supporting states to ensure a coordinated, rapid, and effective response to the current outbreak,” he said.

“This includes the deployment of National Rapid Response Teams to support the response at the state level, provision of medical and laboratory supplies, and scale-up of risk communications amongst other activities.’’

Fears On Nigeria's Health System 

A public health analyst and a renowned Laboratory Scientist, Dr. Casmier Ifeanyi told Vanguard Newspaper that the fears expressed by the WHO, about the Delta variant and the likelihood of the emergence of other new or unknown Covid-19 variants.

He said: “African countries should be rightly worried about the delta variant. Nigeria being a travel destination and a hub for international travels should certainly be worried.

“We are vulnerable as a country and our case is even made worse by our fragile and non-existent health infrastructure and systems. Just last week, the president of South Africa addressed his nation and issued new restrictions and guidelines as he directed for another phase of lockdown. South Africa has activated and operationalized stiffer restrictions.

“The third wave is eminently present in the Africa continent. It is worrisome that Nigerians carry on as if nothing is at stake. If the President of South Africa with all they have done as a country is issuing the far-reaching proclamation and pointing to the fact that the third wave may be accentuated by the more virulent Delta variant, then it is only right that countries like Nigeria should follow suit. South Africa is taking notice of their experience with COVID-19.”

Kehinde Ogunyale

Freelance Investigative and Data Journalist

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