As the number of confirmed cases from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic increase in the country, there are only 169 ventilators in sixteen out of the 36 states. This means there is an average of 10 ventilators in each of the states, and in real terms, some of the states do not have more than five ventilators. Our correspondents report that there are some states that are yet to procure any ventilator for the treatment of COVID-19, while others say they have placed orders and were expecting the delivery of the equipment any moment from now.
Credible sources said most of the 169 ventilators in the states covered by this report have been there for long, indicating that they were not purposely procured to manage the crisis that might likely come with the coronavirus. The states include Kano, Ogun, Edo, Delta, Adamawa, Kwara, Bayelsa, Katsina, Borno, Yobe, Benue, Bauchi, Kaduna, Ebonyi, Gombe and Plateau. Findings revealed that a hospital-grade ventilator is between $25,000 (N9.175million) and $50,000 (N18.350 million) each, based on the official CBN rate of N367 as of Monday, March 30, 2020. Though Lagos and Abuja were the worst hit by the coronavirus, efforts to get the exact number of ventilators in the two cities were not successful. The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said that despite having a total of 81 confirmed cases who have tested positive for COVID-19 as at yesterday, no patient is in need of ventilator yet in the state.
Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, Abayomi said, “Most of the COVID-19 patients are experiencing a very mild to moderate degree of illness. We don’t have anybody requiring ventilation at the moment.” It was gathered that the isolation centre in the Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba has nine ventilators and the newly built isolation centre donated to the state by GTB at Onikan, has some ventilators. Sources at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, said there were about 15 ventilators there, while the Lagos University Teaching Hospital has four ventilators.
According to Wikipedia, a ventilator is a machine that provides mechanical ventilation by moving breathable air into and out of the lungs, to deliver breaths to a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently. A respiratory expert who craved anonymity said Nigeria requires about 10, 000 respirators for emergency cases. He said at the moment, there are less than 50 in both public and private hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He estimated that the country had less than 500 ventilators, adding that it was mostly public tertiary hospitals that have them. He said ventilators were very important equipment, not only being used for treatment of COVID-19, but other respiratory illnesses, adding that it was important for all hospitals to have them. “I pray the country does not find itself in emergency situations like what is presently happening in the US because there wouldn’t be enough ventilators to handle the situation,” he said.
While answering questions from newsmen on Monday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said even though there were no enough ventilators in Nigeria, the country might not need many of them for the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19, an ailment that attacks respiratory system. The minister said most of the over 130 cases so far recorded in the country were being managed without ventilators because the patients showed mild symptoms.