By Sola Ogundipe
Towards boosting the COVID-19 response in Lagos State, 20 Community Health Workers, and one supervisor from the 20 Local Government Areas of the State have been trained by the African Centre for Disease Control, Africa CDC, to be proficient in contact tracing and monitoring.
In a chat with Good Health Weekly, a lead facilitator, Dr Olayinka Ilesanmi, said the goal is to increase contact tracing skills of health workers to enable the detecting of infected persons at the community level.
“Once persons present with symptoms, and all the contacts can be identified, it would cut down the risk of its spread. The higher the number of contacts identified, the greater the chances of limiting the spread. It is one of the ways of breaking the chain of transmission.”
Further, Ilesanmi who is the African CDC COVID-19 Event-Based Epi-analyst said the whole idea is to fulfill the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing, PACT, initiative, that has a training and contact training component.
“Among the skills that volunteers have acquired include how to identify and follow up contacts. They are given forms and infrared thermometers and will educate stakeholders, including community pharmacists and patent medicine vendors. They can go to schools for health education.
“This training will make a difference. Lagos has done well in the response. It is expected that the 20 volunteers will make a lot of impacts because the skills we are giving them will be stepped down at their individual communities.
“When the health workers have to work in the LGAs they would operate like the gatekeepers. This is just to support the efforts of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and the Lagos State government.”
Also speaking, Dr Charles Enejuro, the Africa CDC Epidemiologist for Lagos State, said the African CDC, an arm of the AU, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is supporting its member states through training of community health workers under the PACT initiative.
“It involves testing for the disease, tracing contacts, and treating the contacts after which they are expected to begin community mobilisation, community awareness, and contact tracing.
“We want to handle the pandemic in a credible manner, he noted saying there were gaps in the global response because no one was prepared.
According to Emejuru: “A pandemic requires a lot of resources, so the AU is supporting and mobilising epidemiologists and also community health workers to support.
“Lagos which is one of the 10 high profile states in Nigeria, is the last of the target states to have their volunteers trained. These community health workers are under the Primary Healthcare Centres, later on, workers from the LCDAs will be included.”
Overall, 200 community health workers have been trained in Nigeria. The African CDC has a mandate of training 10,000 community volunteers across the continent and close to 5,000 workers are already trained.