COVID-19: Nigeria may record spike in malaria, TB deaths, Global Fund warns
The Executive Secretary, Country Coordinating Mechanism of Global Fund, Dozie Ezechukwu, has said that Nigeria may be witnessing increased mortality from Malaria and Tuberculosis (TB) due to the drop in access to routine healthcare services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He called for increased funding for HIV, TB and malaria interventions by governments at all levels, as well as the provision of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in health facilities across the country.
Speaking yesterday at the Civil Society Organisations (CSO) meeting with the media under the ongoing Global Fund/CRS Malaria Project in Nigeria in Abuja, Ezechukwu noted that the programme review carried out by the organisation showed that there was a significant drop in outpatient attendance at the hospitals because of COVID-19, adding that the situation was worse for patients with malaria because of similarities in the symptoms of the disease and COVID-19.
He said: “It worsens the situation because at the moment, malaria related deaths in the country is around 27,000 per annum. We are going to suffer more deaths because access to services has dropped over the last two months. But with the relaxation of the lockdown, things are improving. We have more PPEs available and there is growing confidence among health workers.
“But about 60 per cent of Nigerians go to private facilities for health services and those private hospitals have to provide PPEs for their healthcare workers. This may lead to increase in fee for service, which will be an additional burden to patients who are already groaning under the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.”
Also speaking, National Coordinator, Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunisation and Nutrition (ACOMIN), Ayo Ipinmoye Ipinmoye, said there were concerns about the fate of HIV, TB, malaria and other health issues in the face of COVID-19, adding that analyses from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAIDS, among others, suggest that annual death toll across the three diseases could double.
He urged the concerned authorities in the country to act decisively if the progress recorded in fighting the diseases in previous years would not be wiped out.
Ipinmoye stated that the COVID-19 pandemic presents a grave threat to communities that are poor and vulnerable to communicable diseases, saying they are under the threat of the virus and at the risk of a resurgence of HIV, TB and malaria.