Alarmed by the continued refusal of health institutions to treat non-COVID-19 patients for the virus fear, the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus pandemic said Thursday that it has resulted in several unfortunate and avoidable fatalities.
PTF said it was saddened by such reports of deaths caused the refusal of the health facilities to receive and treat patients for fear of COVID-19, pointing out that statistics showed that there is a drastic drop in the percentage of attention being paid to other ailments not related to COVID-19.
The Chairman of the PTF and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, said this at the media briefing of the task force in Abuja on Thursday.
He said the situation was worsened by the fact that federal tertiary institutions are among those rejecting patients for fear of COVID.
“This not acceptable. We are saddened by this development.”
Mustapha said all medical directors have been reached, directing them to continue to provide regular medical services so “that we do not end up with avoidable deaths.”
“Truth be told, we are having more deaths from non-attendance to other diseases than even COVID 19. The reason for the greater emphasis on COVID 19 is because it is a pandemic and if not curtailed has a capacity of wiping out large segments of our population.
“The PTF also urge all the Chief Medical Directors and private health service providers to attend to other health challenges which continue to confront our people on a daily basis. Of course, the guidelines for dealing with patients presenting COVID 19 like symptoms are available and if these are applied by our medical service providers, there would be lesser risks of exposure to the virus,” he said.
The SGF said, the PTF on Wednesday briefing that the Federal Ministry of Health held a virtual conference with the Traditional Medicine Practitioners of Nigeria and also that issues discussed covered intellectual property rights protection, need for non-disclosure agreements and the funding opportunities for research and validation processes.
He said: “Unfortunately, the information put out in the media regarding shortlisting three remedies from the from the Traditional Medicine Practitioners is totally misleading.
“For the avoidance of doubts, neither the PTF nor the Federal Ministry of Health has shortlisted any remedies. This can only be done after diligent processes and as may be advised by the relevant agencies.’’
The SGF said the PTF will in the next 70 hours conclude its assessment on the impact of the measures put in place to curb the virus and forward recommendations to the President for a decision.
“While we take necessary steps, the PTF would continue to appeal to Nigerians on the need for taking this fight with utmost diligence. It is for self, it is for your family and it is for the whole community.
“On our part, we are sparing no effort in coordinating the National response, collaborating with all necessary stakeholders and supporting sub-national entities in their individual state responses which we always maintain should be in synergy with the National Response,” Mustapha said.
Mustapha said the PTF had expanded the scope of collaboration and experience sharing to the ECOWAS Region and in line with the role of President Buhari as the “ECOWAS COVID 19 Champion’’.
He stressed: “This interface thorough the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), will be deepened as part of the short, medium and long-term objectives for controlling the pandemic. The essence of this regional effort is underscored by the huge population of Nigeria and the trade activities across the borders.
“This is not the time to be complaisant as regards the virus adding that the battle is long term and the cure is still in the distant future, nearest being end of 2021.
“In almost all of our briefings and communications, the PTF had made the need for a drastic change in our life style and behavior, a consequence of the COVID-19. This advisory is based on the fact that the battle is long term and the cure is still in the distant future, nearest being end of 2021. We continue to urge our citizens to follow these advisories diligently.
“This point is further underscored by the statistics coming from other parts of the world. A look at the global numbers showed that the world has recorded 5,778,551 cases and 356,722 deaths reporting from 251 countries.”
The PTF chair underscored the need to intensify efforts in the development of health infrastructure and increase non-pharmaceutical response.
“We say again, we cannot afford to be complacent, continue as if we are not under threat, doubt the virulent nature of COVID-19 and continue to allow the virus to ravage our communities because we are fully in the community phase of the spread,” Mustapha said.