Cross River now aligned with national COVID-19 response action- Health Minister

A 17-man team from the Federal Ministry of Health deployed to Calabar to engage Cross River State government on setting up their COVID-19 response and aligning it with the national response, has successfully completed its mandate, Nigeria’s Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire said on Monday.

The team has also returned to Abuja, after a successful mission led by the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

Its team comprised staff of Departments of Family Health, Port Health Services,  Public Health, Food & Drugs Services, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control, Representatives of Standards Organization of Nigeria and the Nigeria Immigration Service.

Cross Rivers State as at end of last month, had yet to record a case of COVID-19, despite the spate of infection across the country, a development that was attributed to the inability of the state to align with the national response plan which hinges more on increased testing.

Speaking at the Presidential Taskforce briefing today in Abuja, the Health Minister, Ehanire revealed that the team had useful interaction with the Cross Rivers State government and were able to address all areas of concern and interest to the Federal Government and also to the Cross River State Government.

“​With this successful constructive engagement, I am pleased to report that Cross River State is now aligned with the Federal Ministry of Health COVID-19 response and has started reporting on the national dashboard. We have activated the GeneExpert machine at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital to increase testing capacity in the state and NCDC has resumed deployment of rapid response teams to provide technical assistance to their Public Health EOC to strengthen their incident management system,” Ehanire said.

He further revealed that following the intervention of the ministerial team with the Cross River State Branch of the Nigeria Medical Association officials, issues that led to the withdrawal of medical services by doctors in the State were resolved and proposed strike action has been called off.

According to him, the Ministry plans to replicate this success with other States where the need for policy alignment is found wanting.

The Minister also expressed delight over the news of local development of RNA extraction kits for sample testing and its validation, noting that he has asked the NCDC to evaluate it as a further step in reducing dependence on imported commodities.

“I hope our researchers continue with this trend and can be assured of the support of the Federal Ministry of Health. NIPRID has also applied for financial support to continue its research on the efficacy of Artemisia annual combination in the treatment of COVID-19, which I hope will resonate with sponsors.

“The This Day Dome treatment Center has joined the list of testing centres and will soon be open for treatment as soon as hospitality services are secured. The renovation of Agura Hotel will begin very soon, as an additional Observation centre for Level 1 and selected Level 2 cases. This will increase FCT capacity considerably,” the Minister noted.

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