It has been months that the deadly pandemic disease, COVID-19 has been ravaging the world. While some countries have started having low numbers of infected persons, some countries are already experiencing a second and third wave of the Virus. Nigeria has been fortunate to have been counting less cases of COVID -19 in recent times but there are concerns expressed by frontline health workers warning against the second wave of the Virus. Lagos which has been the epic centre of the Virus has been on guard to avoid a second wave of the virus which might be more serious than the first wave because of the eased lockdown which has been on for few months now.
On this frontline is the Lagos State commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi who has been working assiduously with other frontline workers in ensuring Lagos is safe. At the just concluded Arise Women Conference held on Saturday, 31st October 2020 at the Redeem Christian Church of God, City of David, Oniru, Lagos hosted by its Convener, Dr Siju a Iluyomade, Prof. Abayomi was one of the special guests and he delivered a very detailed speech where he further sensitized everyone on how to avoid contacting COVID-19 and most especially the second wave that is ravaging some countries now.
The health commissioner who is also a COVID survivor says,
“I always look forward to events like this, because events like this are always important. They are a way of connecting with the community, they are ways of transmitting information, they are ways of receiving feedbacks from the community which is very important to us, the government, to help to form and structure our policy. We need to remain connected and I will like to thank the host, Dr Siju Iluyomade for bringing together so many important people and for raising such an important subject of healthy lifestyle in this current era that we see that is so threatening. I also want to use this opportunity to thank the Arise team for the support that they gave government during COVID, we thank you on behalf of the governor and cabinet, we appreciate all the palliatives and all the personal protection equipment and all the support that were given to the government to help in the battle against COVID.
People always ask why was Lagos seemingly so prepared for COVID, and the reason is Lagos being a metropolis, a mega city, a low line coastal city with a heavy demographic footprints, very crowded environment, it is therefore extremely vulnerable to infectious diseases and pandemic outbreaks. We have had experience, the first shock we got was with Ebola in 2014 and subsequently, it may have gone unnoticed but we have had outbreaks of cholera, we had outbreaks of flu, we had outbreaks of LASSRA fever, we had monkey pox and we had that dreadful resistant bacteria in the famous queens college as a result of water that came out of the ground that threatened the lives of our children in one of Nigeria’s most famous boarding school. So in Lagos we have been experienced and we recognized our vulnerabilities and we set about to raise our resilience to this kind of biological threats.
And from the point of Ebola outbreaks, Lagos State has been preparing for a significant outbreak as we are experiencing in COVID now. it did not take rocket science to understand that something was happening in China, we saw it creeping across the world, Nigeria has its significant presence in China, we have in Europe, United States, through our diaspora, so when COVID had reached the Middle East and Europe, we knew that it was inevitable that Nigeria will begin to see some cases.
So we ramped up our preparedness in terms of man power, in terms of infrastructure, we elevated our level of concern from emergency operations centres to incident command system and you all recognize and remember when our Gov. Babajide Sanwoolu took control of the situation on the recommendation of the ministry of health to elevate the state of concern around COVID and he became the incident commander for the Lagos state COVID-19 response. What a wonderful job our commander has done.
Now going back, you all recognized that Lagos operates on THEMES agenda and inside the THEMES agenda is pillar no 2 which is characterized or made up of health and environment. Now isn’t that strange that the manifest of this current dispensation lumps environment together with health, that is vision, that is foresight and it is as if the government and the wisdom of our Governor could foresee that there is a very close relationship between the environment and health. And when you look at your SDGS, and I think each and every number of the SDGs is very important, from no 1 to no 17. I know we are talking about health here , and SDG no 3 talks about good health and wellbeing but you can only be as healthy as your environment. if your environment is unhealthy, if the food that you eat is unhealthy, inevitably as human beings, living in that ecosystem, we will become unhealthy ourselves.
We are living in an era of emerging infectious diseases which means we are seeing increasing numbers of pandemic events as I have mentioned them earlier,and that is a reflection that we have not yet achieved many of the SDG goals, and I am particularly concerned around SDGs 11 to 15. 11 talks about sustainable cities and one of the main concerns of this government is to ensure that we live and develop in a smart city and sustainable city. 12 talks about responsible consumption, that we are responsible in the way we consume and in the way we discard our wastes. 13 talks about climate action, it is obvious to everybody that the world is going through serious climatic abrasion and this is the reason why we are experiencing all this biological effects on a frequent basis.
14 talks about life on the water and 15 talks about life on land so we must be mindful of the health of our environment, the health of our waters, the health of our sea and health of our ecosystem. If you recall in the bible, when God created the garden of Eden,what did he say, he said it was good and he gave man the responsibility to keep his garden and to name his animals and to tend it. It is our responsibility that we maintain the health of our ecosystem, and as I can see here we are made up of predominantly of the feminine gender. You are the natural , the custodians, the people that transmits direct information to the next generation. It is important that we teach our children to respect environment, to consume responsibly, to not litter everywhere with waste, the government can’t come and tell you how to maintain your environment, you maintain your immediate environment by yourself. You manage a clean environment, you teach your children principles of good hygiene, good health and wellbeing. That is your predominant job as nurturers of the next generation. Yes we as men are there but the female gender has the ability to transmit this information in a way this generation undestands it better. Let me remind you and this is why I have been so particular about us maintaining COVID-19 compliance, that COVID is still with us. If you watch any news channel, you will see that many parts of the world are going through a second and third wave of COVID-19 Impact. It is not gone and we should not relax our guards, certainly we have seen and we hope we have seen the worst in Lagos and Nigeria, but it is still very much around and as you can see from Lagos state, statistics , we are carrying out up to 1500 COVID tests every day to ensure we keep accurate track of what this virus is doing in our environment every day and we are diagnosing between 50 and 100 new cases every day. We are trying our best, to avoid a second wave in Lagos and hopefully in Nigeria, but that depends on us. It depends on how we respect COVID compliant rules and regulations, we don’t want to see another rise, we don’t want to see another lockdown, we don’t want to see another impact on our economy. The whole world is suffering from an economic downturn, we want our people to return to their economic livelihood and we don’t want as government to be able to be in a position where we slow down the economy again. So keep maintaining good lifestyles. I thank the organisers of this event, for all the emphasis you have placed on healthy lifestyle, exercise. You know we are made up of body soul and spirit, you need to keep each aspect of your life balance and healthy, exercising, putting out and eating good food, getting adequate rest, respecting your environment, putting out positive vibes at all times,nurturing the next generation, mentioning our youths, and ofcourse having a positive relationship with the almighty God.
That creates the trio of our lives, body soul and spirit, so on this occasion I will like to thank the organisers, I will like to thank all my colleagues, frontline workers, members of cabinet, the incident commander, Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu for wonderful leadership during COVID, exemplary wisdom, for listening to expertise, and taking the right steps to keep Lagos safe. We have managed to keep our death rate to a very low level compared to international standards.
On a daily basis , in the northern hemisphere, you will see close to 300 or 400 deaths a day, but in our entire outbreak, from Jan till date, we have seen less than 210 deaths in Lagos, and we thank God for sparing the lives of so many people. So many people I know have been infected with COVID, and we thank God we are able to pull through and save so many lives. May the lives of those we have lost to COVID rest in peace. May their children and family members be comforted by the grace of God and our solidarity are with them. I thank you once again for this opportunity and I emphasize once again that we should be and remain COVID compliant so that we prevent a second wave in Lagos.