By Asmau Ahmad
The Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) has advised the Federal Government to convert the COVID-19 pandemic isolations centres across the country to Emergency Infectious Disease Centres for future outbreaks.
The Chief Executive Officer of the institute, Dr Patrick Dakum, gave the advice in Abuja during an interaction session with newsmen.
An isolation unit ensures that healthcare staff and the centres are equipped to deal with infectious disease outbreaks.
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the Federal Government, with the intervention of the Coalition Against COVID-19 and other partners, improvised and created the best possible equipped isolation centres across the country.
Dr Dakum, therefore, said such centres could be converted to high-level isolation units for any infectious diseases even when COVID-19 was over.
He added: “I always give an example of the country doing this at the point where it had Ebola then. I went to the United States of America and decided to visit an Ebola isolation centre just to learn what they were doing.
“There was no Ebola then, they only had one or two cases. Suddenly, there was a demonstration on how to respond to Ebola outbreak in future, with personnel in their full Personal Protective Equipment.
“So, I think the systems that we have developed for the response, the equipment that we have, I hope you know that the GeneXpert machine that we’re using for tuberculosis detection could be used for COVID-19 test also.
“Some of the equipment just need a change of cartridge so we now have a widespread deployment of that equipment.”
He explained that the GeneXpert machines were used in the country for tuberculosis detection “but more were procured and developed to be used for both tuberculosis and COVID-19 across the country.
“We also got ventilators that are not just for COVID-19 but for respiratory distress.”
Dakum also advised that “now that the country has a team for creating awareness on the COVID-19 pandemic, the team can also create awareness on other diseases.
“The methodologies used for behavioural change can also be used for other diseases.”