In order to grant the state access to more funding to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bayelsa State Government has inaugurated the State Steering Committee on the Nigeria COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project (CoPREP).
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Pabara Newton Igwele, who performed the inauguration on Thursday, July 22, in Yenagoa, lauded the state COVID-19 task force and Emergency Operations Centre for their efforts in combating the first and second waves of the pandemic in the state.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Wisdom Ebiye Sawyer, Dr. Igwele noted that as a result of the dedication and commitment of the task force, Bayelsa was able to control the spread of the virus.
He said Bayelsa also emerged as one of the states with the best emergency response to the pandemic, which also helped to reduce loss of lives.
The Commissioner added that the state’s efforts will be doubled to ensure that the new variant does not come into the state and thanked all the supporting Ministries in the state, saying they will continue to work as a team to achieve greater results.
In his presentation on the Bayelsa State COVID-19 Update and Nigeria CoPREP, the state Epidemiologist, Dr. Bio Belu Abaye explained that the Bayelsa Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) was set up as an emergency response to contain the spread of the virus.
He said the state recorded 26 deaths due to the pandemic, adding that challenges the PHEOC trainedy Nvlude vaccine hesitancy, insufficient manpower for disease surveillance, inadequate warehouses, inconsistent power supply in the molecular laboratory, among others.
Dr. Abaye said it was necessary to constitute the Steering Committee which qualifies the state to recieve part of the $114.28 million earmarked for the Nigeria CoPREP set aside for all states in the federation by the Federal Government in partnership with the World Bank.
Representing development partners, the State Coordinator, World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Edmund Egbe said the state has recieved 10,000 rapid diagnostic test kits for COVID-19 from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and urged everyone to get tested.
He also encouraged all present to be advocates for testing, and to persuade those around them to get tested, such that a third wave does not catch the state unawares.
The Director Public Health, Dr. Stow Jones, in his remarks stated that more people should get vaccinated, as the state needs to achieve 70% vaccination in order to gain herd immunity and control new variants.
He thanked all participants and programme managers for contributing to the success of the event, saying with their support, the state will record greater achievements.
Members of the Steering Committee include the Commissioner for Health as chairman, Commissioners of Finance, Information and Water Resources, while the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health will serve as secretary.
Other members are the Chief Medical Director, Hospitals Management Board, Dr. Doubra Dokumo, the Executive Secretary Bayelsa State Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Martins Bekesu, the Executive Secretary, Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme (BHIS), Dr. Zuobemi Agadah and the Director, Public Health, Ministry of Health, Dr. Stow Jones.
Also in the Committee are development partners from the WHO, UNICEF, FHI 360 and Corona Management Systems.
A four-member Project Coordinating Unit was also inaugurated to oversee the day-to-day implementation of the project.