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APHPN urges FG to adopt localise measures to flatten COVID-19 curve amid lockdown

Beyond the fresh lockdowns imposed on residents of Nigeria’s biggest city Lagos, neighbouring Ogun state, and the capital Abuja, Lagos state chapter of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN) has urged the Federal Government to adopt localised measures tailored to the peculiarities within Nigeria to help flatten the COVID-19 curve more quickly.
These measures include a gradual reversal of the lockdown and an urgent review of the distribution of palliative measures to cushion the effects of extended stay-at-home order by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Already the economic implications are biting hard on individuals and families, and recently, there has been an increase in unrest and insecurity needing urgent attention,” said Tolu Olufunlayo, chairman of the association in a statement.
APHPN warned that direct country comparisons and total adoption of strategies from other countries may not be in Nigeria’s own interest.
The organisation called on Nigeria to deploy measures capable of positively changing people’s behaviors such as community engagement and education.
This is the according to them is the best tool to prevent spread because viruses are spread by the behaviour of the people.
Nigeria recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus on February 27, 2020, and the number has since risen to 373 as of April 15, 2020, with less than 5,000 tests. The public health physicians described the trend as a gradual increase rather than an exponential rise experienced in some countries, which could be explained by a largely asymptomatic pattern of the disease in Nigeria coupled with the effect of suboptimal testing.
It said although testing more people is important, it could be challenging as COVID-19 is not only a local problem but a global issue.
Observations of the pattern and spread of COVID-19 in Lagos State, the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria show that not only it is unlikely to attain the level of testing required to make the continued lockdown achieve the optimal epidemiological benefit, but the severity of disease in the country is also yet to transit to that seen in countries with older populations, according to APHPN.
It further pointed out the rising insecurity due to the large numbers of people living on the fringes of society and reliant on now non-existent informal occupations for daily subsistence, and proposed a continuous active case search in a localized manner through local council mechanisms.
In addition to that, APHPN said active and passive surveillance systems could be strengthened through training of ad hoc volunteers and sustained through the retention of those trained, while it advocated that the use of scientific data should be employed to determine the epicenters of the disease within the state and to tailor specific interventions.
But more importantly, the association called for continuation and strengthening of the preventive measures such as hand hygiene, cough etiquette, physical distancing, and use of home-made masks to reduce droplet contamination of hands and surfaces.
“The maxim ‘Never waste a good crisis’ can be leveraged on by Lagos State to buttress the uniqueness of its informal social networks that were so crucial in mitigating the portended disaster during the Ebola crisis. Communities, and communities within communities, are strategically placed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through the community development associations, ward health committees, and other committees established by the governor,” it said.

 

Anthonia Obokoh 

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