Nigeria may not need many ventilators for the treatment of Coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, the minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, has said. While answering questions from journalists on Monday, March 30, 2020, agreed that the country does not have enough of the medical equipment needed to stabilize a respiratory distressed patient.
A ventilator, a machine that pumps air in and out of the lungs, is needed to assist some patients to breathe. The shortage of ventilators in the country has been a source of concern for many Nigerians. Since COVID-19 is a disease that affects the respiratory system, the number of coronavirus patients who would need assistance breathing could skyrocket if a large number of people contract the disease in Nigeria.
However, Ehanire said most of the cases handled so far in the country have been mild and as such the country might not need to stock or purchase respirators to manage patients during the outbreak. As of Monday night, Nigeria has recorded 131 cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.
Not enough ventilators
Speaking to journalists at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force in Abuja on Monday, the minister said no country has enough ventilators.
He stated “There is no one country in this world that has enough ventilators. You know in one major country we all know, the president of that country (I don’t want to mention names) ordered a major automobile company to stop and start manufacturing ventilators.
“Also in another European country, they also ordered them to start because they didn’t have enough.
“So for ventilators, we can say we don’t have enough. Of all the cases we have had so far, only one actually requires a ventilator, the others didn’t require a ventilator,” he said.
Ehanire said if the need for a ventilator arises, the available ones will be moved to the state where it is needed. “As I said, probably just 4 percent or less of the cases that you get require a ventilator.
“What we have done beyond taking inventory of the ventilators in government hospitals, We have gone far to take inventory of what is in a private hospital and they are ready to make them available to us
”We have an arrangement that makes it possible that if you need more ventilators in Abuja we can send them from Lagos.
“If Lagos needs more ventilators, we can bring them from Enugu or anywhere so that we can be able to meet our needs as they are.
“The number of ventilators you have is not exactly what will determine your survival but we have the strategy to be able to carry ventilators from one place to the other,” he said.
He said early detection of cases will help patients not get into the state of requiring a ventilator.