Prof. Adebola Olayinka, Centre for Disease Control, Abuja, said on Friday that the lingering insecurity across the country is affecting effective COVID-19 response.
Olayinka, a Professor of Clinical Microbiology, stated this at the virtual 8th Biennial and Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Kaduna State Chapter.
She explained that insecurity had significantly affected COVID-19 response, particularly in hard-to-reach communities and insecurity-prone areas of the country.
She added that the security challenge is creating a vicious circle of poverty with huge implications on health service delivery.
Olayinka said people are being impoverished from ransom demands, making it difficult to get needed medical services.
“This is leading to poor nutrition and diminished immunity among affected populations who are likely to die of COVID-19 in the absence of effective response.”
She pointed out that COVID-19 not only disrupted health services, but equally overwhelmed the health delivery system, increased infection of health care providers, worsened food insecurity and disrupted economic activities.
She said that although weekly COVID-19 test positivity is declining and the reported death trend stable in the last two to four weeks, vaccination hesitancy has remained a challenge.
She expressed concern that out of the 111.8 million target population for COVID-19 vaccination, only 6.1 million, representing 5.5 per cent, have so far been vaccinated with the first dose.
She also said that only 3.4 million, representing 3.1 per cent of the target population, are fully vaccinated.
According to her, the low vaccination coverage, low adherence to preventive protocol and the emergence of transmittable or imported variants were pointers to a fourth wave of the pandemic.
Speaking on emergency medicine in Nigeria, Dr Oluwole Olaomi, Chief Consultant General and Trauma Surgeon, National Hospital Abuja, stressed the need for strong leadership and coordination in the health sector emergency response.
Olaomi described emergency medicine as “a branch of medicine that deals with sudden illness or life-threatening disease needing urgent intervention to prevent mortality and morbidity”.
He said that the emergency system links all the necessary resources to maximise patient recovery, adding, however, that the Nigeria system lacks strong leadership and coordination.
He pointed out that patients requiring emergency response were being transported to health facilities in private and health risky vehicles instead of ambulances.
“While collaboration among local and international stakeholders exist, there is still the need for a strong leadership that will coordinate emergency response by connecting all resources together to provide needed help,” he said.
On her part, Dr Gloria Ekpo, Chief Executive Officer, Health Kiosk for All, Inc., United States, commended the MWAN, Kaduna Branch, for organising the conference.
Ekpo, who spoke on medical women and work-life balance, pointed out that medical women played multiple roles at a time, and advised them to know when to put off one role for another.
She commended the medical women for their service to humanity and urged them to make their wellness a priority, by making time for self care, mind, body and soul to avoid breakdown. (NAN)