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As trends keep unfolding in the handling of COVID -19 pandemic, the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) has reiterated its commitment to educating frontline workers, medical experts and the general public on the evolving management of the pandemic.

The Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Adetokunbo O. Fabamwo in his welcome address at the LASUTH Webinar on COVID-19 held on Saturday, 26th of June, 2021; recalled that LASUTH had been at the forefront of the COVID encounters and challenges. He said as a tertiary institution, the hospital had regular monthly webinars during the heat of the pandemic; it was eased off as the pandemic also eased off at a time but “the Hospital Management has decided to resume the monthly webinars because LASUTH is at the forefront of disseminating information, we never shy away from that responsibility as an institution”, CMD said.

Prof. Fabamwo expressed that Lagos State is the epicenter of COVID pandemic and that is the purpose for organizing and also putting together top-notch speakers for this webinar.

He closed his address by informing the participants present about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) warning of the possibility of the new wave which would be more brutal; and mentioned that Africa has already recorded almost half a million new cases of the new variant of COVID, called the Delta variant, so there is need to be on guard. The Honorable Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, made an insightful presentation on ‘The Journey So Far, Any Threat of Third Wave? He said, Lagos takes bio-security threats seriously because it is the major entry point into the country, either by land, sea or air and the function of the cabinet is to protect Lagos economy and ensure that Lagosians can earn a livelihood, live in peace and security while dealing with public health crisis by putting measures in place. He noted that in keeping the economic terrain in Lagos open, several strategies such as improving home-based care, decentralization of sample collection centres, expansion of private laboratories, strengthening our home-based care, maintaining capacity to upscale the State response and enforcing guidelines.

In managing the first wave, Prof. Abayomi noted that it was principled on the four tenets of testing, isolation, increasing skill set of our personnel and improving our infrastructure continuously; which was done to help flattening the curve and in curbing a third wave. He emphasized that the State Government has been managing COVID with real time data, changing policies dynamically around public private partnerships, home based care, airports, testing strategies and different kinds of treatment and protocols.

He said the second wave was anticipated and predicted; which resulted into expanding and streamlining isolation strategies, increased the home-based digital technology and ensured that oxygen strategies & production capacities were improved in preparation for possible rising demand.

The Honorable Commissioner concluded by talking about the State Government’s plans to mitigate the third wave by continuing to keep testing and isolation high to detect mutant variant of the disease and continue to use EKO TELEMED to manage patients effectively at home and ensure travelers follow the 7-day isolation among others.

Speaking on ‘COVID-19 Vaccination Logistics and Challenges’, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr. Ibrahim Mustafa reflected that the first and second doses of the vaccines arrived safely in Nigeria and immediately action began on their dissemination in four phases, in which the first phase is on-going.

He also explained that the requirements for taking the vaccine had to be expanded because of the 3-months shelf life of the vaccine and the slow responses of the health workers, who were the focus of the first phase, in receiving the vaccine.

Dr. Mustafa noted that the major challenge is that general public had several schools of thought on why the vaccine is unsafe and should not be taken but several strategies were put in place to debunk the negative perceptions and the general public began to accept the vaccination. He however, noted that challenges such as alleged sharp practices by unscrupulous persons, inadequate crowd control, and initial vaccine hesitancy were being effectively managed and reduced to the barest minimum through massive media campaign and public vaccination of leaders of the political class to encourage the public.

The Board Chairman of LASUTH, Dr. Richardson Ajayi, who spoke on ‘Private/Public Partnerships Realities and Challenges, LASUTH as a Case Study’, pointed out that no health institution of the size of LASUTH can exist without PPP; the strategies and procedures however have to align with the tenets of the institution which is to provide quality healthcare at the barest minimum price. He gave an overview of what Public-Private Partnerships is, its objective, advantages and disadvantages, types and challenges and resolutions.

With 17 PPPs in LASUTH, Dr. Ajayi stated that several challenges are still being tackled and the Board is working hard to put them at bay so they can function at full capacity. He closed his presentation by highlighting factors to note when choosing PPPs, which include, meeting all requirements for the service to the hospital, demonstrable operational competence and experience in the service, providing services at lower costs to attract more patients, and financial & service advantage to the hospital.

The Director, Lagos State Biobank (LSB), Dr. Bamidele Mutiu represented by Dr. Afolabi Obe, broadly spoke on the topic ‘COVID-19 testing, Challenges and Status-Quo.’ He stated that the Lagos State Bio Bank has the responsibility of regulating the participation of private laboratories, accredits and enroll them for COVID-19 testing in Lagos. LSB ensures that the private laboratories adhere to standard operating procedures as laid down in the protocols and guidance, it verifies the payment made by clients in the portal, it monitors laboratory selection and the ability to meet up with the 24 hours turnaround time established. He noted that the laboratories are equipped to detect new variants of the virus and have a high capacity to run a good number of tests on a daily basis. He pointed out that the variants so far Alpha, Zeta and Delta (yet to be confirmed), are now being detected in Lagos.

In conclusion, he mentioned that the LSB ensures that result notifications are attended to promptly and also make sure attendant processes are strictly adhered to. Among other functions, the results from the centre are reported to the State, at most 6 hours prior to notifying the client especially if it’s a positive result. He stated that positive patients are followed up and contacts are traced by the surveillance team of LSB and EKO TELEMED for monitoring and care

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