The Lagos State template should be replicated nationwide. It is time to adopt a new strategy of the management of COVID-19 so that more places of economic importance can be reopened and our children at all levels can go back to school. There must be a balance between economic consideration and health management, something the Lagos State government seems to be getting right.
Nigeria has not turned the corner in the battle against the COVID-19 global pandemic. But it can be said, unarguably for now, that it has not experienced the catastrophic health disaster envisaged and predicted at the onset of a pandemic that has brought the world to its knees. Let us take a dispassionate look at the statistics. Those who have beaten the disease and have been discharged in Nigeria are 35,998, with 11,474 active cases and sadly 976 deaths as at Friday August 14, from a total confirmed cases of 48,445. It shows that the country has not been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic and may actually be flattening the curve in a way
Lagos, the epicentre of the disease, may rightly be saluted for leading the battle against the pandemic in the right way. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is enamoured of the strategy put in place by the Lagos State government in tracking, tackling and managing the disease. The NCDC says the Lagos Community Management Strategy for the disease is on course, with 1325 people having being discharged within the week that ended on Saturday, August 14. The NCDC affirmed that the 1,325 community recoveries discharged in Lagos State was in line with new case management guidelines that it put in place.
And the recent closure of some isolation centres in the State was well thought out. According to the incident commander, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, “Over the last four, five months, we have built excess capacity centres, but that is only the way to go, you cannot over-prepare. We have got to a stage where we need to balance the economics of this and which of these facilities do we need to keep running. Some of them now are having less than 20 per cent of occupancy. This is why we reached a conclusion to shut Eti-Osa facility and another one in Lekki.” Patients at its Ogba Centre have also been relocated, following its closure for the same reason.
The decrease in the rate of infection has not seen Lagos resting on its oars. The State has increased testing and community engagement. And there is an assurance from the incident commander that there will be no derailment in the battle against COVID-19. In the assurance from the governor, “We will continue to fine-tune our efforts and strategies to build on our successes and close any existing gaps.”
The Lagos State template should be replicated nationwide. It is time to adopt a new strategy of the management of COVID-19 so that more places of economic importance can be reopened and our children at all levels can go back to school. There must be a balance between economic consideration and health management, something the Lagos State government seems to be getting right. The State has also not relaxed its enforcement of lockdown orders on places of entertainment and mass gathering. Hotels and outlets, which flout this regulation, are routinely shut down by the government.
The NCDC should encourage experts and COVID-19 managers in other states of the federation to go to understudy the community management strategy and other initiatives in Lagos, which have led to the shutdown of some isolation centres. Lagos, the epicentre of the disease in Nigeria, has been methodical and professional in handling, tackling and managing the disease. The government has created a nexus between it and the people, as it intensifies its battle against COVID-19. The Sanwo-Olu administration also catered for and continues to cater for the welfare of the people of Lagos through the amelioration of the economic, social and physical dislocations engendered by COVID-19. The government’s various incentives to business and home owners reduced job loss in critical industries, in spite of the adverse effect on its internally generated revenue. For team Sanwo-Olu, the theme of its anti-COVID-19 strategy is, people first.
There should be connection between the people and those driving the battle against the disease in all states of the federation. Now this needs intensive education through effective information and communication dissemination to all strata of the society on COVID-19 preventive measures. The managers of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria should adopt a multi-dimensional information strategy that will pull in the new media, the traditional media, traditional and natural rulers, leaders of faith, community development associations, students unions, labour and associated organisations, media influencers and other relevant associations and unions to pass the message across.
Of course this not the time to let down the guard. The pandemic is still as virulent as ever. Countries which embarked on wholesale return to business as usual are now effecting emergency shutdowns as they have seen a resurgence of the pandemic. Like the truism, eternal vigilance should be the strategy and price to pay for victory over COVID-19.
The Lagos example is the way to go, as it involves constant monitoring, upgrading of health facilities, effective information dissemination, connection with the people and effective leadership. Sanwo-Olu and his team, including the technical adviser, the Lagos State commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, have walked their talk. They have provided leadership in tackling the disease in Lagos and shown what good governance is all about.
Other states should follow the Lagos example in the ongoing battle against COVID-19 in Nigeria.
Adegbenro Adebanjo, sent this piece via email@example.com