By Idowu Abdullahi,
The Federal Government has decried rising cases of the reported number of non-coronavirus related deaths in the country, saying the deaths might have been as a result of apprehension associated with the global pandemic.
It said the fear of contracting the virus by both patients and health workers in the country which had led many patients suffering from other ailments resort to self-medication and jettisoned seeking professional help and quality health care in hospitals might have contributed to the numbers.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said since the outbreak of the deadly respiratory disease, statics of patients seeking medical care has dropped in hospital nationwide which might have aggravated their ailment thus resulting in deaths which people are attributing to coronavirus infections.
Ehanire, who expressed worry while speaking in Abuja during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, on Friday, said latest statistics from the National Health Management Information System (NHMIS) indicates that Out-Patient visit dropped from 4 million to about 2 million, Antenatal visits from 1.3 million to 655 thousand, Skilled Birth attendance from 158,374 to less than 99,000, while immunization services dropped to about half.
“There have been some reductions in the activity of treating routine cases because of fear of COVID-19.
“As a result of that, we do worry that some deaths may have occurred not directly in connection with the coronavirus. If a person couldn’t go to get help in a hospital because of the fear of coronavirus or doctors refusing to attend to such persons,”
He, however, expressed optimism that the surge in deaths would be addressed and trust in the system, among patients and health workers, will be back to normal with the gradual easing of the lockdown.
The Minister urged Nigerians not to relent in adhering to all safety measures put in place by the governments and relevant stakeholders, adding that the country will better off when citizens take serious the issue of personal hygiene and that of social distancing which would mitigate the spread of the virus.
“All these have as yet undetermined consequences, which the easing of the lockdown should hopefully address. However, the downside of easing the restrictions needs to be balanced off with a collective determination by all of us, not only to comply with protective and prophylactic advisories but to encourage relatives, friends, neighbors, and customers to do same.
“The use of facial covers like masks in places where social distancing may be difficult or impractical should be supported and emphasized through the donation of masks to the population, as an act of goodwill. Face masks should become commonplace and I look forward to all cooks and food vendors, for example, wearing masks, or risk losing customers.”