The Nation (Nigeria)

Nigerians have let down guards, says physicians

•Body recommends vaccines, adherence to safety protocols

- From Moses Emorinken, Abuja

PHYSICIANS under the aegis of the West African College of Physiover cians (WACP) have lamented that the majority of Nigerians have let down their guards and do not observe COVID-19 preventive measures anymore be it in offices, markets, worship centres among others.

They urged Nigerian to comply wholly with the extant non-pharmaceut­ical interventi­ons, and ensure they get vaccinated.

They spoke following the identifica­tion of Delta variant of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, coupled with the fact that states like Lagos have started to admit more people into their isolation wards.

The physicians decried the declining health indices in the country, noting that as a result, Nigeria is currently ranked fifth in the world and second in Africa with regards to the highest death rates.

The Chairman, Community Health of the WACP Nigeria, Dr. Benjamin Uzochukwu, stated these during a news briefing to kick-start the college's 44/45th Annual General and Scientific Conference, scheduled to hold from today in Abuja, with theme: 'Nigeria Health Indices: Changes and Prospects in a contempora­ry world'.

Uzochukwu said: "In the country, we have generally relaxed ourselves and dropped our guards, hence, we are going back to square one. To worsen it is the emergence of one they call the Delta variant, which is a very dangerous variant of the COVID-19 virus because it kills faster.

"In fact, the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu was quoted as saying the isolation centres are filling up fast now. So, people are being sent back to the hospital as more people are coming down with COVID-19. Covid-19 is real and, therefore, we must continue the non-pharmaceut­ical interventi­ons. Wash your hands properly with running water. When that is not easily available, you use sanitisers to clean up your hands. Put on your mask properly and maintain some physical and social distancing.

"These things don't cost much, but we hardly do them. Finally, it is important that we take the vaccinatio­n that is ongoing. We have discovered that there is a lot of hesitancy, even among our colleagues. So, it is important that you embrace vaccines."

National Chairman/vice President of WACP Nigeria Prof. Aboi Jeremiah Madaki, in his remarks, said: "Health indices provide nations, their health policy-makers and managers with essential informatio­n on key aspects of health status of their population­s. The Nigeria health indices portray declining health status of Nigeria when viewed as trend

the years and also when compared with regional and global standards.

"Crude Death Rate (CDR) gives the number of deaths occurring during a year per 1000 population and is a good indicator of the general health status of the specified population Nigeria CDR in 2019 was 12 (11.6)/1000 of the population. It was 15.1 in 2008; (UN World Population Prospect 2020) and has minimally improved over the years however, 12/1000 makes Nigeria a Country with the fifth highest death rate in the world and 2nd highest in Africa being only slightly better than Lesotho.

"Life expectancy at birth, another good indicator of the general health status of the people, is equally not very favourable in Nigeria. Nigeria has a life expectancy of 54 years (2017) but dropped to 52.2 years in 2019 (NPC 2019) compared with Mozambique at 59 years putting us only better than the Central Africa Republic with 52 years and one of the lowest in Sub Saharan Africa and 3rd lowest in the world.

"The country leadership needs to take urgent steps to reduce preventabl­e deaths and improve the quality of life of the citizens. We equally call on health-related profession­al bodies, security agencies and the general public to support government efforts in reducing preventabl­e deaths in the country and making the country better for all."

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