The Federal Government has enrolled the Federal Capital Territory, FCT as well as Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Kaduna and Sokoto states in the “solidarity trials”, an international clinical trial to help find a cure for COVID-19 being spearheaded by the World Health Organization, WHO. The government also warned COVID-19 patients in its isolation and treatment centres against attacking doctors and other healthcare workers who are catering for their medical needs, describing such actions as inhuman, unacceptable and reprehensible.
It also said it has conducted over 27,000 tests so far, while about 600 Nigerians in diaspora had been evacuated and are now in isolation. The government equally confirmed that it has reached out to Madagascar for its elixir named “Covid Organic,” but said the product will be subjected to scientific analysis to ascertain its genuineness and perhaps begin its local production. This is even as the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, announced yesterday that it received a total of 104 complaints on rights violations from 27 states across the country. WHO solidarity trials Speaking at yesterday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, listed the states that would be participating in the trials. The solidarity trial, which is an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19, was launched by the WHO and partners. More than 100 countries have joined the solidarity trial and to date, over 1,200 patients have been randomized from the first five countries to evaluate the safety and efficacy of full drug and drug combinations. WHO had announced that Nigeria had recently indicated its readiness to join the trials.
Giving an update on the trials, the minister said: “The Federal Government is cooperating with WHO on treatment regimen solidarity trial, with the following states enrolled: Lagos, FCT, Ogun, Kaduna, Sokoto and Kano.” We are not aware but it is a normal scientific process — NMA Contacted on the issue, President of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Dr Francis Faduyile said although the NMA was not aware of the trial, the process was a scientific procedure to get drugs and vaccines approved. “We have been involved in other clinical trials not only on COVID-19 but in drug formulations. It is a normal thing in science and it does not mean that the Federal Government wants to use Nigerians as guinea pigs. They must have passed through a lot of processes before they want to do trials. “It is a normal scientific process of getting drugs approved as well as getting vaccines approved. We are not aware of this one the Federal government is planning but it is a normal process.” Attack on health workers Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, said most of the demands made by patients are such that health workers are not in a position to meet. There had been reports of COVID-19 patients attacking health workers and asking for improved welfare or be released. He said: “The PTF has also continued to receive, rather sadly, reports about challenges facing the front-line health workers. They have received threat to lives, experienced detention by patients they are actually nursing to health and suffered other forms of harassment. “Let me underscore the fact that these front-line workers constantly put their lives on the line to make sure persons infected are provided with the best care possible to enable them become healthy citizens again. “It is, therefore, inhuman and unacceptable that patients engage in acts of locking them up and making demands that these front-line officers, most of the time do not have the capacity to address. The PTF views such behaviour as reprehensible and should be deprecated. We call on all state governments to take this up appropriately.” He added that the PTF was identifying and assessing all low to medium and high burden areas, with a view to assessing and modifying its strategy to strengthen community ownership in the national response. States to liaise with Catholic Bishops The Federal Government also asked states to liaise with Catholic Bishops in their areas in order to access more spaces for isolation of COVID-19 cases. He said it would soon be impossible for state capitals to contend with the number that would be thrown at them, hence the need to accept every offer of bed space from good-spirited individuals and organizations. “We wish to confirm that states have been encouraged strongly to set up isolation centres, wards (including ICU) with a minimum of 300 beds each. This will help accommodate levels 1 & 2 cases. “However, with the increase in numbers, we are beginning to experience a shortage of bed spaces in the isolation centres, especially in the high burden areas. “We are conscious of the need to take care of different categories of persons e.g. people living with disabilities, terminal conditions and other underlying factors/co-morbidities. “As part of efforts to support states in the establishment of isolation and treatment centres, I wish to remind our governors that the Catholic Bishops Conference has volunteered all the 425 hospitals and clinics nationwide for adaptation and use as isolation centres. “Governors are encouraged to please approach Catholic Bishops in their states to access these facilities,” the SGF said. Madagascar’s cure to be tested The SGF said the product which is currently in Guinea-Bissau, would soon be freighted to Nigeria and subjected to all necessary validations before usage. He said: “With respect to the Madagascar syrup, it has been freighted to Guinea-Bissau by the President of Madagascar. Certain allocations have been made to different countries. We have an indication of the quantity that has been allocated to Nigeria and we are supposed to make arrangements to freight it out of Guinea-Bissau to Nigeria.