by Badejo Oluwaseun
Nigeria of about 200 million people has only 500 ventilators; worse, most of the few oxygen plants in the country have broken down. These are the findings of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which is about to intervene in the Niger Delta on Coronavirus.
The Acting Managing Director, Kemebradikumo Pondei, a professor of medicine, told newsmen covering the Commission on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, that the Commission just carried out a study to determine how to intervene. His inaugural lecture at the Niger Delta University (NDU) in 2019 was on the consequences of ignoring and neglecting viruses. “This morning we found that there are about 500 ventilators in the entire country. We are exploring avenues to see if we could intervene in providing ventilators. Similarly, oxygen is difficult to procure in the country.
He said that the federal government through the ministry of health has a policy on oxygen, but that it has not been disseminated very well. According to him, there are very few oxygen production plants in the country and some of the existing ones have broken down, pointing out that the provision of oxygen is key to the treatment. The NDDC boss said the Commission was looking at contributing in the area of treatment because most of the activities so far had been on prevention; social distancing and hand washing as well as using sanitizers. “We are also looking at the drugs that have been used so far in other climes for treatment; there are some anti-viral drugs that we are trying to make available in a proactive manner. The NDDC is going a step above what others are doing.” He assured that the Commission would intervene to protect the people of the Niger Delta region from the dreaded Coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
Pondei said as an intervention agency, the Commission would collaborate with other stakeholders in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. He said: “We have started looking at different isolation points in the nine states of the Niger Delta region. We are interacting with the states to find out what is on the ground and we are taking stock of the ventilators and oxygen in health facilities across the region.”
“As for testing, we are leaving that with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which is coordinating the testing, but we will also like to let people know that most of the kits that are being used are not efficient and cannot detect COVID-19. This is because everybody has one way or another been exposed to Coronavirus and those kits just test for antibodies that already exist in most of us.”