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LASG justifies spending on COVID-19 cases, drops expenses details

By Idowu Abdullahi,

Barely 24 hours after Lagos State Government disclosed N1 million as rough estimated figure spent on daily basis per COVID-19 case, the state government has claimed that the said amount was not the actual figure spent on patient as reported by media, but that expenses were based on peculiar case of patients.

The state government explained that from its records, spendings were approved base on needs of patients and that every penny spent were done on condition and peculiarity of cases, since its mandate and priority were to control possible spread of the disease and stabilize those already affected by the virus.

The Guild had yesterday reported that the state’s Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, claimed that the state government spends about N100,00 daily for mild and moderate cases, while it costs about N500,000 and N1m to treat a patient with serious or intensive COVID-19 case.

But, the state  government government while justifying the spending on Friday, said that the cost of caring for patients across the state’s isolation centres was based on the range of symptom manifestations of COVID-19 patients.

The government, through a statement released by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, clarified that reports on Prof. Abayomi’s press conference, especially that on daily spending per coronavirus patients ‘were insufficiently appreciated and incorrectly portrayed by some members of the press’.

“The Honourable Commissioner, in the interest of transparency, offered a window onto the economics of COVID-19 care and, regrettably, some Reporters misunderstood his comments.

While we commend the role of the press in probing into the application of public funds, we look up to them to be balanced and accurate their reporting.

It is clear that N1,000,000 sounds more sensational than N100,000, but we must not allow sincerity to be sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism. What the Honourable Commissioner sought to communicate was the range of symptom manifestations of the Corona virus – from mild and moderate to severe and critical.

He explained that the cost of treating these manifestations vary, considerably. In summary, he said this about the cost of COVID-19 care:

Every case is different and it is very difficult to calculate exactly how much managing a COVID-19 patient would cost, but what is clear to us is that when you add up the expenses of maintaining the facility, infrastructure, human resources, feeding and consumables, it costs the government approximately 100,000 naira per day for a non-complicated COVID-19 admission.

Of the 13,835 positive cases identified in Lagos thus far, about 18% equivalent to 2,490 have been admitted into the State’s isolation centres. Of all these patients admitted – about 7% were severe and 1% was critical; that is 8% of total admissions.

The Honourable Commissioner gave an indication of the considerations factored into the costing of intensive care, including ventilation, dialysis, intravenous antibiotics, oxygen and other high and intensive care requirements, depending on the complications of the case.

He went on to estimate the cost of intensive care, which usually requires a longer period of admission, and may range between N500,000 to N1,000,000 per day.

Unfortunately, certain sections of the press chose to latch on to the figure of N1,000,000 and disregarded the painstaking context that had been provided by Prof. Abayomi.

That figure was the upper end of a band and, just as importantly, it applied to no more than 200 out of 2,490 admissions, majority of whom recovered. That means the balance of 2,290 non complicated admissions each cost around N100,000 per day,” the statement read.

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