BY MARY KUYE
Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said the government is considering an option of homecare treatment for COVID-19 patients.
According to him, the ideal for homecare treatment is coming at the heel of congestion in the existing facilities across the state.
”States are running out of bed spaces, especially in Lagos, Abuja and Kano,” he said.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who spoke during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, said NCDC is struggling in certain States to provide bed spaces for patients, adding that it might have to switch to managing people from their homes.
His words: “Concerning the availability of bed spaces for the management of patients, there is no doubt that we are struggling in certain places especially in Lagos State, and to an extent Kano and Abuja. But the biggest challenge right now is in Lagos where bed spaces are really tight.
“Across the country, we have about 3,500-bed spaces identified as available for coronavirus but in Lagos, we are already struggling.
“So, we are going to work with them to keep trying to make more spaces available.
“But ultimately, we might have to change that strategy a little bit and start considering homecare in certain circumstances where – firstly you are able to provide a room where a patient can be managed sufficiently and secondly, we are able to support the care by enabling healthcare workers to come there. We will always be honest to Nigerians.
“We are struggling at the moment and we might have to adapt our strategies because of the realities we face.
“Over the next few days and weeks, and as we do that, we will make that clear to Nigerians.
“Our policy hasn’t changed but the pressure is there and that might have to change in the next few days.”
Concerning the proposed bill by the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, seeking to empower the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to make it more proactive, Ihekweazu said he was personally not in favour of drafting a bill in the middle of a crisis.
The Control of Infectious Diseases bill seeks to empower the NCDC to make it more proactive and not just reactive and function when there is an outbreak.
If or when it is signed and becomes law, it will empower the NCDC to administer necessary vaccines to curb the spread of pandemics and make regulations for preventing the introduction and spreading of infectious diseases in Nigeria.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said: “Concerning the bill, I take it in a good way because I believe the members of the House of Representatives are concerned about the situation and where we find ourselves.
“I think they are doing their very best to come up with solutions; the only solutions that they can come up with are new laws.
“I take it positively that they are doing something, of course, the bill requires more consultations.
“I am personally not in favour of drafting a bill in the middle of a crisis. I think we need to get over the crisis, get our heads around what has happened and use the momentum again with all stakeholders to come up with a bill that will really serve this country, not only for now but well into the future.
“Whatever new legislation the come up for public health and infectious diseases in Nigeria will be so important because there has never been a time that the importance of this has been more clear in the consciousness of Nigerians. So we must think of it carefully and come up with a bill that is really fit for purpose.”