Dr Osagie Ehanire

The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to continue to mitigate the spread and impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said.

Speaking at the virtual Plenary session of the Annual General Meeting of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN), on Thursday, the minister noted that children were among those severely affected by COVID-19.

Represented at the event, by Dr Kayode Afolabi, Director, Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Ehanire said: “The Federal Ministry of Health has done a lot to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on children, by training health workers in the states on key child interventions.

“We developed guidelines on the management of paediatric patients during COVID-19 pandemic, which will specifically address isolation facilities for children in the healthcare institutions.

“We developed guidelines for infection control, specifically for the paediatric population.

“We also provided a paediatric pandemic plan that will involve policymakers at all levels, through promoting the understanding of COVID-19 and how it affects children and how to tackle similar outbreaks in future.”

The minister noted that as at Jan. 8, 2021, the world had recorded 88,615,325 cases and 1,908,948 deaths, while Nigeria recorded 95,934 cases and 1,330 deaths.

He added that the major drivers of the outbreak were both symptomatic and asymptomatic persons, infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), from whom the virus can spread.

The Minister said that the federal government initiated the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, to provide a high level strategic national response and activation of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to co-ordinate the national public health response.

At the state level, a campaign tagged #Take Responsibility, was launched as a wake-up call for Nigerians to be proactive in preventing and controlling the spread of the pandemic in Nigeria.

Ehanire said emphasis was placed on strong interpersonal community awareness at the grassroots, through mass media and SMS services, in order to reach larger communities.

Other interventions by the Federal Government included continuity in the promotion of essential reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, adolescent and elderly health, during the pandemic, he added.

The minister said in spite of the pressure experienced due to the already over-stretched health system, the government recorded great achievements through its collaborations.

“These includes the provision of meals to support the most vulnerable school-aged children across Nigeria, in collaboration with the existing school health programme scheme, as well as, provision of psychosocial support services for children and families during and after COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The Minister commended PAN for organising a virtual conference in accordance with the COVID-19 guidelines.

The theme of the two-day event was, ‘Child Survival in Nigeria Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic: Issues, Challenges and Way Forward.’