Appraising Abia intervention on Coronavirus – By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu


Disasters, whether man-made or natural, are inevitable. Pandemics are also bound to happen. But the basic concern is the ability of governments and institutions to live up to the expectations of checking such disasters to ameliorate the casualty levels.

The recent outbreak of the Coronavirus has put governments and relevant institutions on their toes and has jolted them from sleep.

Governments and relevant agencies globally are now busy designing means of checking this pandemic so that the casualty rate will not escalate.

Thank God for the proactiveness of Gov Okezie Ikpeazu. Abia State Government has initiated a quick response to this disaster by inaugurating a committee to manage the prevention and preparation to handle issues around the pandemic.

The committee’s terms of  reference include launching preventive media campaigns, putting machinery in place to protect vulnerable groups such as school children, identification and preparation of isolation centers in case of any outbreak in the state, procurement of test kits and drugs as well as coordination with state and federal agencies.

Others are mitigation plan to prevent collapse of trade and commerce in the state in the unlikely event of an outbreak, defining a plan to protect public places including eateries, hotels and restaurants. The committee is also to liaise with medical institutions in the state and beyond to coordinate response and testing as well as advise government on any other incidental step that is necessary to combat the disease in case it break.

The committee is constituted Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Osuji, who is the chairman. Other members of the committee are the commissioner for information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, his counterparts in Homeland Security, Prince Dan Okoli and Science and Technology, Chief Chijioke Madumere, who is the Secretary.

Let us equally note that the charge by the Secretary to the State Government, Barr. Chris Ezem, who inaugurated the committee is fundamental. Barr.Ezem charged the committee to ensure that” no stone was left unturned to protect the people of the state and residents from the reported Coronavirus outbreak as the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration prioritizes the health and safety of the citizens above other considerations”. He further assured that the government will provide necessary resources to support the committee in the discharge of its mandate without let or hindrance.

Also, the assurances elicited from Dr Osuji, who reponded on behalf of the committee is heartwarming. He assured that the state ministry of health went to work early enough to put in place necessary preventive measures as well as establishment of response protocols in case of any outbreak in the state. He stated that the ministry has already identified isolation centers in Umuahia and Aba while working on a third center to be located in Abia North Senatorial Zone.

On the other hand, it takes two tango as Dr Osuji  called on the people of the state to observe good hygiene practices including regular washing of hands, cleaning of their environment and prompt reporting of suspected cases to medical facilities in the state. He informed that the ministry has already procured face masks and gloves for distribution to medical centers and will soon embark on preventive screening of people who visit government offices and other high risk public places.

Swift interventions on critical health issues by the Gov. Ikpeazu-led adminstration is not in doubt. In the recent past, the state, through its Ministry of Health, the Nestle Nutrition Institute of Africa, the Nigeria Society of Neonatal Medicine, and Vicar Hope Foundation held a workshop which trained 100 primary health-care personnel in Abia State, on the skills of Helping Babies Breathe. The training enhanced the knowledge of participants; which heloed to drastically reduce neonatal asphyxia and infant mortality in the state. The trainees included doctors, midwives, nurses and community health extension workers, drawn from private and government hospitals, and primary health-care centres, especially those in the rural areas where the need is greater.It will be recalled that the training came on the heels of listing the state among six others to benefit in funding the reduction of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.

The training was apt because neonatal asphyxia – which is also known as perinatal asphyxia or birth asphyxia – is the medical condition resulting from deprivation of oxygen to a newborn infant that lasts long enough during the birth process to cause physical harm, usually to the brain. Medical experts define neonatal resuscitation as the intervention after a baby is born, to help it breathe and to help its heart beat. This is because some babies need help with establishing their air flow, breathing, or circulation. This intervention takes the form of helping them with airway, breathing, and circulation, also known as the ABCs. Recall that before  a baby is born, the placenta provides oxygen and nutrition to the blood and removes carbon dioxide. After a baby is born, the lungs provide oxygen to the blood and remove carbon dioxide. The transition from using the placenta to using the lungs for gas exchange begins when the umbilical cord is clamped or tied off, and the baby has its first breath. Many babies go through this transition without intervention.

Besides, neonatal death (death of infant within the first 28 days of life), according to NDHS Report, 2003, in Nigeria is 48 per 1,000 live births. Almost half of infant death per annum results from poor maternal health and poor care at the time of delivery. The major causes of these deaths are asphyxia, preterm, sepsis, neonatal tetanus, congenital conditions, diarrhoea, among others. It is also noted that globally, about one quarter of all neonatal deaths are caused by birth asphyxia. Therefore, effective resuscitation at birth can prevent a large proportion of such deaths.



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