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15 May 2020

Nationwide lockdown: 50% pregnant women, nursing mothers, others desert hospitals

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on all health services in the country as the Federal Government says outpatient visits to hospitals nationwide have reduced by half.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who stated this on Thursday at the press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said that latest statistics obtained by the Federal Government showed that pregnant women and other outpatients’ visits to hospitals had dropped by half.

He also said immunisation services had reduced by half.

Ehanire, however, said the gradual easing of the lockdown in the country would address the problems.

Although Nigeria recorded its COVID-19 index case on February 27, as of Wednesday, no fewer than 4,971 persons had been diagnosed with the deadly virus.

Also, out of the figure, 1,070 patients have successfully treated and discharged, while 164 have died.

The virus has killed pregnant women in states such as Ekiti, Jigawa and Ogun. On April 22, a 29-year-old pregnant woman, who sneaked into Ekiti State from Lagos State, died of the virus.

On May 3, the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta confirmed that the virus killed a pregnant woman in the hospital on May 1.

On May 4, the Jigawa State Commissioner for Health, Abba Zakari, said a pregnant woman died of coronavirus at the Dutse Isolation Centre.

Outpatient visits drop from 4m to 2m, antenatal from 1.3 million to 655,000

At the PTF press briefing on Thursday, Ehanire quoted figures from the National Health Management Information System.

He said that while outpatient visits to hospitals dropped from four million to about two million, antenatal visits dropped from 1.3 million to 655,000.

The minister said for skilled birth attendance, there was a “drop from 158,374 to less than 99,000 while immunisation services also reduced to about half.”

The minister said the ministries of health and the Federal Capital Territory met on Thursday and agreed on the need to ensure the delivery of routine services in all hospitals in Nigeria.

He noted, “Latest statistics from the NHMIS indicate that outpatient visits dropped from four million to about two million; antenatal visits from 1.3million to 655,000. Also, skilled birth attendance from 158,374 to less than 99,000 while immunisation services reduced to about half.

“All these failings have yet undetermined consequences, which the easing of the lockdown should hopefully address. However, easing restrictions has to be balanced by citizens complying with protective and prophylactic advisories, and to encourage relatives, friends, neighbours and customers to do the same.”

The health minister reiterated that the government would engage state commissioners of health and their workers through an information and communication technology platform to retrain health workers.

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