Press Briefing Note by Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Press Briefing on Thursday 14th May, 2020

Dr. Osagie Ehanire - Hon. Min. of Health


Yesterday, 13th of May 2020, 184 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in 22 states. A breakdown of the cases by States shows Lagos (51), Jigawa 23, Bauchi(16), Katsina(16), Kano(14), FCT(10), Rivers(10), Kwara(9), Delta(5), Kaduna(5), Sokoto(4), Oyo(4), Kebbi(3), Nasarawa (3), Osun(3), Ondo(2), Ebonyi(1), Edo(1), Enugu(1), Anambra(1), Plateau (1), Niger (1) with 6 fatalities recorded in the same period. The total number of cases in Nigeria so far has reached 4,971, with sadly 164 fatalities. So far, 1071 cases have been treated and discharged.

2. As we inch towards significant milestones in our COVID-19 statistics, we are looking at all options to adjust our approach to the emerging situation. The Federal Ministry of Health and its Agencies particularly the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency have scaled up training in Infection Prevention and Control, case finding and management, Emergency Patient Transport Systems, Surveillance Outbreak Response Management Analysis System (SORMAS), down to training of hygienists, stretcher bearers and security personnel. This will increase confidence in the health system, reduce instances of Health worker infection and desertion and improve overall performance.

3. We have also deployed commodities like PPE and other supplies to States and Federal Health Institutions, and in addition continued with supplies to laboratories to forestall much reported delays arising from shortages.

4.These measures and others are to address the needs reported to us by the FMoH team, presently deployed in Kano, which has also paid exploratory visits to Jigawa, Bauchi and Katsina and is preparing to visit Sokoto and Bornu very soon. Part of the needs already identified is the urgent necessity of on site laboratories with molecular diagnostic capacity, to reduce the presently extended turnaround time for results. Practical, hand-holding personnel training has been requested for some of the health systems, who have had very little experience in the past, with Infectious disease management. To this end, more personnel is to be deployed from the Federal Infectious Disease Specialist Hospital Irrua, while the kind offer of Lagos and Ekiti State Governors will also be drawn upon to send health workers to assist. Stepdown training will be a priority in the entire excercise to build capacity across the board to the level of community health workers, in the bid to sustain safe and comprehensive delivery of services.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire - Hon. Min. of Health
Dr. Osagie Ehanire – Hon. Min. of Health and a cross section of members of the PTF on COVID-19

5. The Federal Ministries of Health and of the Federal Capital Territory held a ministerial meeting today and agreed on a firm, synergistic framework for collaboration and cooperation to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 within the Federal Capital territory. A joint committee led by the Hon. Minister of State for Health and including their Permanent Secretaries was set up to oversee the ThisDay Dome COVID-19 treatment facility, recently handed over to the 2 ministries. The initial medical team is to be headed by the Chief Medical Director of Federal Teaching Hospital Irrua. The Ministers also paid an inspection visit to the 600 bed COVID-19 treatment center at Idu, a flagship project of FCTA.

5. Also slated for special emphasis by Federal Ministry of Health is ensuring continued delivery of routine services in all hospitals in Nigeria. Latest statistics from the (NHMIS) National Health Management Information System, indicate that Out patient visit dropped dropped from 4 million to about 2 million, Antenatal visits from 1.3 million to 655 thousand, Skilled Birth attendance from 158,374 to less than 99 thousand, while immunization services reduced to about half. All these failings have as yet undetermined consequences, which the easing of the lockdown should hopefully address. However, the suspected downside of easing restrictions has to be balanced off by citizens, with collective determination by all of us, not only to comply with protective and prophylactic advisories, but to encourage relatives, friends neighbors and customers to do same. The use of facial covers like masks in places where social distancing may be difficult or impractical, should be emphasized and supported through distribution of masks to the population, as an act of goodwill. Face masks should in fact become commonplace and I look forward to seeing that cooks, stewards and Food vendors, for example, wear masks, or lose their customers.
I wish to enjoin workplaces to institute such requirements and ensure that all workers are masked and knowledgeable about COVID-19, and by extension, share it with their families and relations.

6. I wish to use this opportunity to thank community, religious and traditional leaders, who have supported Government initiatives by ensuring that their subjects use masks as the minimum form of self protection for themselves and us all. The present rate of community transmission makes even these simple measures helpful.

7. We shall engage State Commissioners of Health and their staff through IT platform, to continue training and retraining of health workers in States, as more information on covid-19 is received, to ensure learnings and exchange of ideas and experiences of other countries, is shared.

8. We have had discussions with multinationals and our development partners such as WHO and Global Fund, to plan our needs, processes and procurements. Funds are also being repurposed for use in the covid19 response to further increase diagnostic capacity and provide personal protective equipment for our health care and other public workers.

9. I shall conclude by thanking our Governors for the leadership they are showing in the response to the virus threat and also all our citizens for adhering to public health advisories. The FMoH visit to Cross River State will be scheduled as soon as transport is arranged and to Kogi State, as soon as details are worked out.

10. Thank you for your attention.