In the world today, no nation is spared from the threats and the likelihood of occurrence of public health emergencies and its negative consequences. Lagos state is a small sized state in Nigeria, yet has over 5 percent of the national population estimate.
The Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in becoming a world class quaternary center has continued to develop its emergency preparedness and response to cater for the ever-expanding population of Lagos State which is approximately 25 million.
LASUTH has a high skilled work force and state-of-the-art equipment. LASUTH is a referral centre for primary and secondary centres including private hospitals.
Preparedness is a continuous cycle of planning, organising, training, equipping, communicating, exercise evaluation and improvement activities to ensure effective coordination and enhancement of capabilities to prevent, protect against, responds to, recover from and mitigate the effect of an emergency incident.
LASUTH already has a Disease and Infection Prevention and Control Committee in place for more than 8 years and has been training workers on both Standard and Transmission based precautions. A Crisis Management Committee was also set up five (5) weeks ago and a triage protocol in screening, isolation and notification of highly infectious diseases, which are not limited to Lassa fever, Ebola fever and COVID-19 was developed and is being strictly adhered to. Our minimum acceptable level is standard precaution.
Our medical personnel have already been trained to take all precautionary measures to prevent, protect against, respond to, and mitigate the effect of an emergency incident. Sensitization and further training were organised two weeks ago at a special grand round edition, where the State Epidemiologist, the Infection Control team, Family Physician and Community health Specialist were present to educate and inform adequately.
As part of the hospital’s preparedness, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) had been procured four (4) weeks ago and deployed on the 27th and 28th of January to all entry points. PPE is used only based on risk assessment and when seeing patients after which they are appropriately disposed into color-coded bins. They are not to be worn as part of dressing when not attending to patients. Automatic hand-sanitizer dispensers have been installed at all the service entry points and all efforts are in place to ensure there is constant running water for proper hand hygiene hospital wide.
Our holding area is not a quarantine facility nor an isolation ward. It is a holding area for patients that fits the algorithm for case definition of infection of high consequences pending confirmation by laboratory investigation. All patients who are presented at the emergencies are screened using the Triage Protocol; temperature measurement, travel history etc. and those who fit into the case definition are kept in the holding bay to protect the general population of staff and patients in the emergencies. While in the holding area, necessary medical and support care is given while awaiting the result of laboratory investigation for the infectious diseases; this process is within 24 hours. Patients with positive results for infections of high consequence are transferred to Mainland Hospital or into the general pool of patients if negative. It is pertinent to note the holding area is currently being upgraded.
LASUTH has always been playing a prominent role in containing highly infectious diseases in Lagos. We are prepared in collaboration with Lagos State Government, in line with global best practice and precaution to screen, isolate and treat suspected patients as well as protect the people of Lagos State.
Adewale is public affairs specialist. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org