Nigeria: Covid-19 - We Are Exhausted, Health Workers Cry Out

27 February 2021

As Nigeria marks one year anniversary of the first recorded case of Coronavirus, health workers have said they are overwhelmed by the pandemic and earnestly await the arrival of vaccines.

Nigeria is expecting the arrival of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, through the COVAX arrangement by next week.

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) said as soon as the vaccine arrives in the country, frontline health workers would be prioritised while other batches would be administered to the elderly and vulnerable persons with co-morbidities based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

Some of the health workers who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend lamented that since the first case of the virus in Nigeria, they have been stressed due to work load occasioned by the pandemic.

The Public Relations Officers of Nigeria Infectious Diseases Society, Dr Adefolarin Opawoye, said, "Fatigue is a big problem, a lot of us are tired, next month will be one year since we had our first case of COVID-19 and back to back, we have been seeing patients even more than what we can handle. That is really stressful. We have also been affected psychologically; we have lost a lot of patients; some of them are our colleagues.

"As frontline workers, we are not always with our family members, just to keep them safe because we are dealing with a highly contagious disease. Some of us have moved out of our homes, because our family members are no longer comfortable with the fact that we are COVID-19 frontline health workers, because some of our colleagues, who got infected, passed it on to their family members.

"Another challenge we faced as frontline workers was the fact that, we do not always have PPE to work with. For instance, sometimes last year, we experienced shortage of PPE to work with, but it has been sorted out. This year, we had a challenge of oxygen; there was no enough oxygen, which has also been sorted out. There is the problem of remuneration. A lot of frontline health workers feel that they are not properly paid because of the risky nature of our job.

"Though all these challenges may not go away, with all Nigerians vaccinated, it will drastically reduce some of them like hospitalization."

Opawoye said the virus drastically increased the stressful condition of doctors and other health workers in the country, adding that with the hope of the vaccine coming to Nigeria by the first quarter of the year, the stress will be reduced.

He, however, stressed that the Nigerian government should ensure that all Nigerians get vaccinated, so as to measure the impact of the vaccine against the virus. "We should remember that before we can start to see the impact of the vaccine against the virus, a good amount of Nigerians need to be vaccinated.

"We have more than 200 million Nigerians. The first batch of the vaccine only covers like 30 per cent, meaning the remaining 70 per cent of Nigerians are still at risk and vulnerable to the virus.

"I acknowledge the fact that the government is doing their best to ensure that the vaccine gets to the country. I would however urge them to get the right vaccines that would work for us and ensure that a significant number of Nigerians get vaccinated."

To achieve that, Opawoye urged the media to start doing a massive campaign to educate Nigerians on the importance of the vaccine and the need to get vaccinated.

"The media need to encourage Nigerians to take the vaccine because there is already a negative campaign against the vaccine, so the media should help change the narrative," he added.

On acceptance of the vaccine, immediate past president of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Abdulrafiu Adeniji it borders on individual choices.

"We know that accepting the vaccine is an individual choice but generally, because of our knowledge, I am sure that the majority will want to take the vaccine. As family people and as members of communities, all we can do is to encourage the masses when it reaches their turn to take the vaccine," he noted.

Lagos, FCT, Plateau To Get Highest Doses

As Nigerians anxiously await the arrival of COVID 19 Vaccines, LEADERSHIP weekend has learnt that states with higher percentages of confirmed cases would be given additional doses.

The states with the highest confirmed cases as of February 25, 2021 are Lagos - 55,381, FCT- 19,148 and Plateau - 8, 874.

Programme manager, National Emergency Routine Immunisation Coordination Centre of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Bassey Okposen, told our reporter that it is part of the criteria for allocation of the COVID19 vaccine doses.

Speaking during a webinar sensitisation meeting with health correspondents yesterday, assistant director, Disease Control unit, NPHCDA, Dr Nana Sanda, said to achieve high immunity, the recommendation is that 75 per illegible community would need to be vaccinated.

He noted that the Agency's plan is to vaccinate all illegible population from 18 years and above with safe and effective COVID 19 vaccines as they become available.

He said, "We estimated the total illegible population to be over 180 million. This makes up about 61.14 per cent of the total population and it includes pregnant women.

"For pregnant women, however, their recommendation will be reviewed by their doctors to see that the benefit out-weigh the risk."

According to her, the federal government has received multiple commitments for the delivery of millions of vaccines to all eligible Nigerians.

She said the different funding sources include those of the COVAX facility, Africa Union Commission, the government of India and the MTN.

"They have made commitments of various doses from manufacturers who have been certified. We will be receiving over 16 million of the dosses from Serium Institute through the COVAX facility.

"The African Union has approved 2.9 million doses of Astrazeneca vaccine and 18.9 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. We are expecting that between March and April of this year. The government of India has donated 100,000 doses of Astrazeneca and Nigeria is to receive 1.5 million doses of Astrazeneca vaccine from MTN."

Ooni Unveils Anti-COVID-19, Herbal Immune Boosting Drugs

Meanwhile, the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, has unveiled series of traditional medicines made from local herbs for boosting human's immune system against infectious diseases such as the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) disease ravaging countries across the world.

The product launch held at the Ile-Oodua Palace in Ile-Ife, was done through a platform called Herbal Remedies International, with the Ooni as its chairman, in partnership with the ace traditionalist; the chairman YEMKEM International Ltd, Dr Akintunde Ayeni.

Addressing journalists, Ooni Ogunwusi who wondered why the African continent imports medicines and other medical ingredients from developed countries, said it was a proven fact which is equally established by the World Health Organization (WHO) that Africa and indeed Nigeria have the best herbs which could be used for vaccine production.

In his goodwill message, the senior special assistant to the president on job creation, Afolabi Imoukhuede, commended the Ooni over the innovation, adding that many youths would be engaged productively through this initiative.

Earlier, Ayeni described the development as his greatest achievement since over 40 years of practice, explaining such a landmark achievement is more spectacular because it is coming from Ile-Ife; source of mankind and natural headquarters of the Oduduwa race worldwide.

In his address, the commissioner, Osun State Ministry of Health, Gbenga Adepoju, who pledged government's support for the products, noted that the country has what it takes to solve her problems.

In their separate speeches, director-general of National Agency for Food, Drugs, Administration and Control (NAFDAC), represented by the director of public affairs, Mr Jimoh Abubakar and the DG of Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) represented by Engr Gideon Amosun, jointly declared their organizations' support for the innovation, commending the monarch over the medical breakthrough.

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