•Urges FG to make more funds available to Ministry of Health
By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday resolved to suspend plenary for two weeks to allow the Management of the National Assembly to put in place, facilities that would assist in screening and detecting the symptoms of the dreaded coronavirus.
The resolutions of the House followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance tilted: “The need for emergency response and tackling of deadly coronavirus (COVlD-19) in Nigeria’ moved by Josiah Eden (PDP, Akwa Ibom), and granting the prayer by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu at the plenary presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase.
Elumelu in his contribution to the motion proposed an amendment to the prayers of the motion, calling on the National Assembly to suspend plenary for two weeks to also enable members sensitize their constituents.
Adopting other prayers of the motion, the House urged the Federal govennnent to release more emergency funds and create enabling environment and support to the Federal Ministry of Health and other Health Agencies and institutions in a bid to completely overcome and eliminate the threat of the Novel Coronavirus (N CoV).
It mandated the Leadership of the National Assembly to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to interface with the Executive, Health Agencies and Institutions with a view to overcoming and eliminating the dreaded Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) recently brought into the country.
The Green Chamber called for the immediate activation of all Centres established and designated for the treatment and management of Ebola cases in the Country for the management of suspected cases and victims of COVID-19.
It further urged the Federal Ministry of Health and relevant Agencies to further intensify surveillance at all international borders and ports of entry through the provision of more thermal machines, infrared thermometers for temperature screening and‘ deployment of personnel to conduct the screening and quarantine services on all inbound passengers to the country.
The House also resolved that: “Risk communication should further be intensified. More massive awareness creation and sensitization meetings should further be conducted through the use of the electronic media; the NBC should continue to mandate all government and private owned Television and Radio stations to dedicate at least 15 minutes every day to create more awareness on COVID-19.
“More Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials should be produced by the Federal Ministry of Health and distributed across the country while community engagement and social mobilization should further be intensified by the Federal Ministry of Information and relevant Agencies.
“Laboratory services should further be expanded in the country. The establishment of more Functional Public Health Laboratories, at least two in each of the 6 geo-political zones should be made for quick confirmation of cases.
“More functional isolation centres should be designated at least two in each of the geo-political zones for quarantine and management of suspected cases. Adequate Personal Proteetive Equipment (PPE) should be provided for the health workers; more drugs and medications needed for supportive care should be provided at the designated isolation centres while more respirators should also be provided at the isolation centres. Enough Oxygen should be reticulated in all our Health facilities especially the Emergency and Intensive Care Units”.
The Lower Chamber of the National Assembly therefore mandated its Committees on Healthcare Services and Health Institutions to ensure strict compliance and implementation of the resolutions and report back within four (4) weeks for further legislative action.
Presenting the motion, Uyime lamented that with the current situation of health facilities in Nigeria, the virus if not properly checked will easily be transmitted within the larger population and may lead to a serious disaster.
“Aware that the Federal Ministry of Health’s Emergency notification to the public that the Coronavirus influenza outbreak this time is very serious and fatal and is highly contagious. The symptoms of coronavirus may appear as soon as 2 days and as long as 14 days according to Centre for Disease Control.
“Worried that the socio-economic implications of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria can be very disastrous. This can be threatening to the lives of about 200 million Nigerians. Hence, events have been cancelled or rescheduled as the disease ravages the world.
“Concerned that with the current situation of health facilities in Nigeria, the virus if not properly checked or curtailed will easily be transmitted within the larger pepuiation and may lead to a wider catastrophe