Invest More in Oxygen Generators, Not Ventilators—Minister

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By Dipo Olowookere

Minister of Health, Mr Osagie Ehanire, has called for more investment in oxygen generators, saying situations have showed that they are more needed in the management of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) than ventilators.

Last week, Mr Ehanire inspected the 063 Nigeria Air Force COVID-19 Observation, Treatment Centre located at a side of the 063 NAF Hospital along the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Road, Abuja.

The facility is about 25-bed COVID-19 Observation and Treatment Centre with a Small Operation Theatre (when that becomes necessary) and sections to treat serious symptomatic COVID-19 cases, observation and treatment of mild and asymptomatic cases.

Speaking at the event, which had officials of the ministry in attendance, the Minister said, “You may consider that based on health team’s management of cases of COVID-19, majority of our patients do well with oxygen supplementation because the ventilators have not come in so useful.”

He further said in Lagos, “We’ve seen out of every 400 cases, only 4 requires ventilators. So, the percentage of those who require ventilators are not as high as what we feared in the beginning.

“A large number of persons will require oxygen supplementation. So, we are advising investing in oxygen generators now as you invest also in ventilators, but don’t put all your hopes in ventilators.”

“I understand that the Air Force has an oxygen plant in Yola. So, you can supply yourself generously with oxygen,” the Minister stated.

He expressed gratitude to NAF for donating 30 cylinders of oxygen to the ministry. He said the items have been deployed to the General Hospital, Asokoro, Abuja.

However, the Minister requested for more oxygen cylinders from the Air Force to be used at the Lagos Mainland Hospital, Yaba, where there is an isolation for COVID-19 treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Mr Ehanire, who was invited to inspect and possibly direct on further things necessary for the centre to be accredited, charged the 063 NAF COVID-19 Observation, Treatment Centre, said with COVID-19, not much was known about it initially.

“But we proceed by learning. Several treatment drugs have been touted and trials reveal that many of them have not proved useful.

“A new one has come up now, we know it, we know its side effect, it is not something you buy off the shelf, you have to be extremely careful in its dispensing and uses. It’s only a doctor that should prescribe it prescribe the exact dosage,” he said.

Impressed with the state of the 063 NAF Observation and Treatment Centre, the Minister directed the accreditation team to proceed with other things necessary and to note the facility to be added to the nation’s assets along with the Defence Reference Laboratory at Mogadishu Cantonment along Nyanya Road also in Abuja. The Lab, the Minister, was told has already handled more than 560 samples.

On the future of national response to any health emergency post-COVID-19, Mr Ehanire disclosed that even before COVID-19, his Ministry had been working on a national response that bring together a national emergency management response system.

This, he said, was already built into the National Health Act whereby 5 percent of Basic Healthcare Provision Fund will form the seed money for medical emergency response.

“We realise that the private sector up to 60 – 70 percent of health services is delivered by the private sector. So, we know that the private sector has to be included in this response system.

“We have a committee already working on this and it is headed by somebody from the private sector and the armed forces are members,” he noted.

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