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SFH warns against complacency on COVID-19 containment measures

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Dr. Omokhudu Idogho


Following the easing of the five weeks lockdown in Abuja, Ogun and Lagos states, the Managing Director, Society for Family Health, Dr. Omokhudu Idogho, has stressed the need for government and Nigerians not to allow complacency to set in and urged the government to apply smart measures in the required communication and enforcement needed to contain this epidemic.

In a statement yesterday in Abuja, Idogho noted that the emerging trajectory of the coronavirus disease would thrash Africa’s weak health and social protection systems, deepening the spectre of poverty and lack for millions of households losing their caregivers, and productive members of communities.

According to him, “The capacity for institutional care will collapse and the recourse to community management with its attendant impact will become the order of the day. Women and girls will be worst affected, as the bulk of care will fall on them, eroding the nascent gains made on gender equality and economic empowerment in the continent. Younger women will be particularly impacted as community structures collapse and as the health system becomes overburdened, leaving the care of relatives and loved ones to them. Many of them could also become infected, worsening the outcomes for their children”.

He observed that the bitter experience with the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic that saw the continent lose a significant number of its productive workforce deepened the gender prevailing stereotype with women and girls as caregivers, and took the continent backwards, is still fresh in our minds. So is the recent experience with Ebola in West and Central Africa, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is still awaiting the all clear from WHO. Any attempt at complacency will see a worst-case scenario than what the continent faced with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Ebola combined”.

Idogho argued that unlike HIV infection, where community precautions could minimise transmission to caregivers, COVID-19 is more contagious, and transmission risk will be extremely high, with catastrophic consequences for communities and women as caregivers.

He said, “It is therefore imperative that all African leaders and citizens alike are mobilised for the long term to contain this pandemic. If staying at home is what is required, let us all pull together to support each other to guarantee a daily livelihood for the poorest among us and ensure the effectiveness of lockdowns where they are in place. If sick or has been exposed, let us keep to the directive of self-isolation….”

As a patient presenting in the hospital, let’s provide all the required information including travel history or any exposure to COVID-19 for good clinical decision-making. For all of us, let’s keep the handwashing, elbow sneezing and other advised public health behaviours going. Let’s pull together, to ensure our safety, that of our families, from friends, communities and countries. We must not be complacent: let’s prevent the spread of, and work together to contain COVID-19 in Africa.

“This is one time in our lives as citizens when we must continue to stay indoors except we absolutely have to come out, and abiding with all safety regulations once we are out, including the use of mask, and orderliness in transport and points of social interaction. In the context of the emerging euphoria that the case growth in many of African countries is not as bad as predicted, I will strongly suggest an alternative view based on a cautious and proactive reflection on these numbers. While many of us have struggled with staying anywhere (including home) for the long haul, this is one case in our lifetime where we must ensure that complacency does not take a hold on both the sides of leadership and followership,” he added.


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