The COVID -19 pandemic is taking its toll on all health services in the country as the Federal Government says outpatient visits to hospitals nationwide have reduced by half.
The Minister of Health , Dr Osagie Ehanire, who stated this on Thursday at the press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 , said that latest statistics obtained by the Federal Government showed that pregnant women and other outpatients ’ visits to hospitals had dropped by half .
He also said immunisation services had reduced by half .
Ehanire, however , said the gradual easing of the lockdown in the country would address the problems .
Although Nigeria recorded its COVID – 19 index case on February 27 , as of Wednesday , no fewer than 4 , 971 persons had been diagnosed with the deadly virus.
Also , out of the figure , 1 ,070 patients have successfully treated and discharged , while 164 have died .
The virus has killed pregnant women in states such as Ekiti , Jigawa and Ogun . On April 22 , a 29 – year -old pregnant woman, who sneaked into Ekiti State from Lagos State , died of the virus .
On May 3 , the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta confirmed that the virus killed a pregnant woman in the hospital on May 1 .
On May 4 , the Jigawa State Commissioner for Health , Abba Zakari, said a pregnant woman died of coronavirus at the Dutse Isolation Centre.
Outpatient visits drop from 4 m to 2 m , antenatal from 1 .3 million to 655 ,000
At the PTF press briefing on Thursday , Ehanire quoted figures from the National Health Management Information System .
He said that while outpatient visits to hospitals dropped from four million to about two million , antenatal visits dropped from 1.3 million to 655 ,000 .
Skilled birth attendance falls from 158 ,374 to less than 99 ,000
The minister said for skilled birth attendance, there was a “ drop from 158 ,374 to less than 99 ,000 while immunisation services also reduced to about half .”
The minister said the ministries of health and the Federal Capital Territory met on Thursday and agreed on the need to ensure the delivery of routine services in all hospitals in Nigeria .
Immunisation services reduced by about half
He noted , “Latest statistics from the NHMIS indicate that outpatient visits dropped from four million to about two million ; antenatal visits from 1 .3 million to 655 ,000 . Also , skilled birth attendance from 158 ,374 to less than 99 , 000 while immunisation services reduced to about half .
“All these failings have yet undetermined consequences, which the easing of the lockdown should hopefully address . However , easing restrictions has to be balanced by citizens complying with protective and prophylactic advisories, and to encourage relatives , friends , neighbours and customers to do the same .”
The health minister reiterated that the government would engage state commissioners of health and their workers through an information and communication technology platform to retrain health workers .
He said , “The Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies , particularly the Nigeria Centre 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 .”
No money for COVID -19 research , FG tells researchers
During the question -and -answer session , the health minister said individuals and groups which believed that they could research into the cure for COVID -19 should go ahead as the Federal Ministry of Health would not stop such a venture.
Ehanire clarified that the ministry would not give money to those carrying out or intending to carry out such researches .
He said , “We encourage all those who think they have an answer to the COVID – 19 problem to go ahead to do the research they want to do. We have universities and research centres and we want them to go ahead . The ministry itself is just a regulator . So , it is not to be imagined that the ministry is trying to stop anybody .
“But certainly , the ministry will not start giving anybody money, unless if there are organisations that give grants to do research .”
The minister said Nigerians , who returned from the United States and United Kingdom , were still in 14 -day quarantine .
Furthermore, the health minister said , “As regards the deaths in Kano , I can report that the so -called unexplained deaths were not only in Kano , but they have also been recorded or mentioned in connection with some other states . And the team that left for Kano is looking at all these and creating a protocol and a system to look into these unexplained deaths.”