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COVID-19: 20m children, pregnant women at risk over neglect of primary health care, group warns

By Molade Adegbuyi

Community People’s Initiative Against Aids (COPEAIDS FOUNDATION), has expressed fears that many children may die in the face of growing neglect of primary health care brougth by governments’ increasing concentration on COVID-19 campaigns alone.

The rights group wants all tiers of government not to brush aside the medical needs of over 20million children in Nigeria and a large number of pregnant women under the guise of channelling all health resources to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement on Monday signed by its Executive Director, COPEAIDS FOUNDATION, Mrs Adeoye said the strategy adopted for COVID-19 fight disrupts routine services and threatens to weaken the health system of many vulnerable Nigerians.

The group called on Federal and State Governments not to allow the campaign against COVID-19 to take attention from primary health.

The group said authorities appear to have closed their eyes on primary health care due to COVID-19 with devastating consequences on children, pregnant women and the aged.

The estimate is based on an analysis by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, newly published and in their reaction to the report, UNICEF warns these disruptions could result in potentially devastating increases in maternal and child deaths.

She lamented that COVID-19 pandemic disrupts routine services and threatens to weaken the health system. UNICEF had said that globally, 6,000 additional children under five could die every day.

According to the group, most hospitals are refusing to attend to people who have symptoms similar to COVID-19 but may not necessarily be COVID-19 positive.

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“High temperature, weakness of the body, loss of
appetite are common symptoms of malaria. It is unfortunate that many private hospitals are sending many people back home on the basis of their symptoms which may not necessarily be COVID-19. We need to strike a balance. The health system should not be shut to Nigerians simply because of COVID-19 pandemic. We urge the State and Federal Governments to increase testing capacity and ensure Nigerians are not denied to necessary attention to their basic health needs because of the overwhelming focus on COVID-19.”

She said that as COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, Nigerian authorities should pay attention to the warning from the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) which said additional 950 Nigerian children could die every day from preventable causes over the next six months.

“If we allow COVID-19 battle to take away our attention from other primary health needs, more children will die and the lives of many Nigerians will be put at risk” Adeoye said.

Across the country, primary health has been neglected. treatment of children, infants’ access to preventive care, provision of necessary vaccine for children under five and the treatment of malaria are being sacrificed because of COVID-19. This has to change”,she concludes.

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