COvid-19: Time To Look Inwards

Dr. Olusegun Mimiko

By Olusegun Mimiko

Perhaps, the most crucial equipment at the clinical stage is the mechanical ventilator, the scarcity of which is now global. I shudder to think of the number of mechanical ventilators in Nigeria. Obviously, we do not have enough for a population of about 200million people.

Nice our president addresssed us and I hope this gives added momentum to our combat against this killer virus. Will like to highlight some areas of blowout preparedness to which we must pay attention.

While we are trying to procure more of this life-saving gadget which are hardly available anyway, I suggest that we start mobilizing massively for manual ventilators and start training paramedics who may be called to use them as instruments of last resort in emergency.

Even New York is already making arrangements in case it needs to go through that route. I am sure that if we ransack medical stores in hospitals around the country, we may be able to retrieve a lot of old fashioned manual ventilators that can be fixed for use and also importantly to serve as prototype for local production.

Innoson Motors may face challenges trying to produce modern type mechanical ventilators because of sophisticated softwares and sophisticated electronic parts, something tells me clearly that it will produce any type of manual ventilators quickly.

So will other similar or related local industries, if challenged. After all, the basic principle of most types of ventilators, positive pressure creators, is more or less the same as that of time honored bellows that our traditional smiths were so dexterous at.

I am reliably informed that no government official has engaged Innoson since their reported claim to have the capacity to produce ventilators. Let’s engage.

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Simultaneously, we must start mobilizing our local capacity and start building oxygen plants for what may turn out to be an astronomical demand.

May I state that in light of our obvious limited capacity to test, trace or treat or cope in case of a blowout, social or more correctly, physical distancing remains, the best arrow in our quiver.

The troubling issue is how to sustain a stay at home order when perhaps up to 40 percent of our adult population earn their daily bread on a daily basis.

We are quick to complain of lack of data, but we have BVN. I’m told we have 40million BVN accounts. Adopting a benchmark of say annual turn over of say below 360,000 Naira needing palliative, and assuming that up to 50 percent, i.e. 20million qualify for palliative, say 20,000 Naira each, that will amount to just about 40billion Naira which we must find!

This is without prejudice to other commendable palliatives like cash transfers, trader Moni etc. Alignment of data base, I’m assured will quickly ensure nobody benefits twice.

One also wish to appreciate governors that are already trying to provide food palliatives to households. Huge logistics, but leveraging digital tech will surely help. In 2015, in Ondo State we delivered food palliatives to about 150,000 households seamlessly in 3weeks!

Let me commend our frontline workers and hope we will continue, to the best of our ability, provide them with the wherewithal to function efficiently. Federal ministry of health and especially NCDC need our encouragement to continue their untiring engagement.

May God heal our land.