Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, has said that the Commission would do everything within its powers to protect indigenes of the Niger Delta against the dangerous Coronavirus.
Prof. Pondei gave the assurance in an interview with newsmen at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The NDDC boss maintained that as an interventionist agency, the Commission would collaborate with other stakeholders in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Said he, “We have started looking at different isolation points in the nine states of the Niger Delta region.
“We are interacting with the states to find out what is on ground and we are taking stock of the ventilators and oxygen in health facilities across the region.”
The NDDC boss observed that the treatment of the disease was not limited to drugs but included the ability to make sure that the patients were able to breathe properly and this should be done using ventilators.
He continued, “This morning, we found that there are about 500 ventilators in the entire country.
“We are exploring avenues to see if we could intervene in providing ventilators. Similarly, oxygen is difficult to procure in the country.
“The Federal Government through the ministry of health has a policy on oxygen which has not been disseminated very well.
“There are very few oxygen production plants in the country and some of the existing ones have actually broken down. But the provision of oxygen is key to the treatment.”
Prof. Pondei also said that Commission was looking at contributing in the area of treatment because most of the activities so far had been on prevention; social distancing and hand washing, as well as using sanitizers.
He continued, “We are also looking at the drugs that have been used so far in other climes for treatment, there are some anti-viral drugs that we are trying to make available in a proactive manner. The NDDC is going a step above what others are doing.
“As for testing, we are leaving that with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control which is coordinating the testing. But we will also like to let people know that most of the kits that are being used are not efficient and cannot detect COVID-19.
“Because everybody has one way or another been exposed to Coronavirus and those kits just test for antibodies that already exist in most of us.”
He also said that the NDDC would identify the isolation centres in the Niger Delta states so as to assist in strengthening them and building their capacity for service delivery.
“It is not enough to build a place and say it is an isolation centre. It has to be properly equipped and properly stocked. They should have personal protective gears for health workers and must have dedicated conveniences for each of the patients. Everything you use for one patient cannot be used for another patient.”
Prof. Pondei also maintained the need for people to imbibe simple health tips like social distancing, not smoking in a crowd, good coughing etiquette and regular hand washing with soap and water. He advised that hand washing techniques be taught on radio and television.