Nigeria’s health minister, Isaac Adewole, has submitted the weekly report of the state of the nation’s public health to the cabinet, the Federal Executive Council.
The Minister told statehouse correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting in Abuja that the ministry was tracking four major diseases out breaks.
“Council received the weekly report on the state of public health in Nigeria and we did inform council about four major outbreaks that we are currently tracking.
“One is Lassa Fever and we are quite happy that there is a major decline in a number of reported cases. We have also not reported any deaths in the last two weeks but we still have two cases reported from Edo last week.
“We still have cholera in some parts of the country, particularly in Kano, Kebbi, Borno and Zamfara but the outbreak in Borno state is the most significant of all of them.
“So far since the outbreak started we have recorded 2,719 suspected cases of cholera and we reported 51 deaths in total.
“We have started cholera vaccination in Borno state as a way of stemming the tide.’’
The Minister added that the ministry informed FEC about one reported case of yellow fever in Kwara, adding that public health and surveillance officers were deployed to the state to access the situation with a view to commencing immunisation.
He said that the immunization would be in two local governments, one each in Kwara and Kogi.
Adewole expressed delight that the country had not reported any case of Polio since the last reported case in August 2017.
The minister appreciated the field officers and the armed forces helping in the containment of the disease in Borno by vaccinating the children in the difficult and security-challenged areas.
“We are quite confident that if we can sustain this in the next two years Nigeria will be certified Polio free and I am also certain that that would imply that Africa would also be certified Polio-free,’’ he said.
Adewole also spoke on how to prevent avoidable deaths which he said was the job of a functional health system.
He said that the government was trying to change in a transformational way the narrative in the health sector.
“Over the years we have spent 80 per cent of our budget on curative services and that is not really what we are supposed to do.
“We really need to move in the direction of prevention services and when you look at our budget we are moving more of our budget to preventive care, more money to immunization.
“Because when you immunize our children they will not develop measles, cholera or the things that will make them to die.”
He said that in addition, government had started a programme to curb maternal mortality.
“We are starting with six states that have the worst levels of maternal mortality.
“We are starting with Jigawa, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Yobe and we want to crash maternal mortality in those states,’’ he said.
The minister advised that education and lifestyle behaviours of the citizens should be improved so that those sick did not need to stay at home when the treatment was available in the hospitals.
He said there should be trust in the health system which would enable things to change, adding that the ministry was working with the Bureau of Public Service Reforms to change ways things were done in the health system.
He expressed dismay that patients waited upwards of three hours to six hour before they could be attended to by doctors.
Adewole added that the administration inherited problems in the health sector which led to the strikes in the health sector.
He disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, to compile the debt in the sector with a view to clearing them.