A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Akeem Sokunle, has said that the state government is gradually defeating the dreaded COVID-19. Sokunle, who serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Health Services, revealed that the pandemic has led to improved development in the healthcare sector in the state. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
Lagos State government is battling the COVID-19 pandemic on all fronts; will you say the state is winning the war?
Presently, we are on a flat curve, the cases are reducing from over 500 to fewer figures these days. If we maintain the rules and regulations given by the government we should be able to get to the ground level of the pandemic. I am talking of rules such as use of face mask, maintaining social distance. So, if the people are obedient, we will win the war.
What can you say about the belief of some people that there is no Coronavirus in Nigeria? Some of them say what people are having are fever and other common ailments…
That is why I said if the people could maintain the rules and regulations given by the government, we will get to the end of the virus. They should believe that there is COVID-19 and listen to what the government is saying on how to reduce the spread. We know that there are hunger and challenges in the land, but does that mean that the people have to die? If you are sick of Coronavirus, you can stay at home and get treated. If your immune system can withstand it, what about other people that could be infected with the virus. That is why I said people should protect themselves. It is not that the government wants to inconvenient you, they also protect themselves. People are saying that COVID-19 is a sickness of big men, but when you get to the isolation centres in the state, you would see that the big men that are dying are few, a lot of poor people also die, you don’t get to hear their names. Nobody mentions their names as they are buried immediately.
What lessons have we learnt from this ailment, especially in our health sector and how better can we improve our healthcare system in the state and in Nigeria?
It is unfortunate that we found ourselves in this situation. It would have been better if we had all the facilities we have now a long time ago and we had been using them appropriately. I go to the isolation centres regularly, I even inspected the one donated by Alhaji Aliko Dangote and I am impressed. But I am not so happy because of the pandemic. One thing I know is that pandemic would lead us to the development of our healthcare sector. It has opened our eyes to a lot of things in the sector. By the time we are done with COVID-19, we would be able to reactivate the best aspect of the health sector in Lagos State.
How soon do we expect the vaccine for the cure of coronavirus as researches are going on in this aspect?
When you talk of vaccine, to develop a vaccine is not the issue, what about the clinical trial. We rely on what is being done from other parts of the world. What I can say is that the pandemic will give us the ability to think straight. I don’t see anything wrong in doing research work, but a country that does not have steady power supply might not be able to do research work. Research works are highly expensive and we need a constant power supply for researches. As our electricity is epileptic, how do we do it? By the time the pandemic is totally eliminated, I think Nigeria needs to sit down and work on its power, education and health sectors because that is the way forward. This pandemic has opened our eyes to a lot of things.
The pandemic is actually a mixed blessing, a lot of frontlines workers are complaining about welfare and the hazards of the job, do you think they are justified?
They are not the only people working as professionals. We have a lot of them, what about the citizens. If you decide to stay in your home; what about contracting the virus in your home? What about soldiers; should they back out because there is war? It is their chosen career. There is hazard in every job; even journalists face hazards in their job. So, you don’t need to chicken out because of the pandemic.
What about infrastructure development in the health sector?
I have just said it that the pandemic would help our health sector to develop. I am highly optimistic now that the health sector in Lagos State would be up to international standards. It would be an old story that we don’t have an ambulance, we don’t have beds, or facilities because we are going to have more than enough.
Would the isolation centres be retained after the pandemic?
They would retain some and dismantle some because they are not permanent structures.
We are now in August; do you the virus being with us for the rest of the year?
I am sure COVID-19 would be over in the next two months. I am not God, but I am optimistic. It is my personal opinion and not that of the state government. With the flat curve that we are having now, I am giving it two months to come to an end.
How does one build one’s immune system?
I am not in a position to talk about that. But you can follow the given instructions given by the experts.