“The crash in oil prices will definitely affect us.” ~ Gov Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State

The Governor of Delta State Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, at the 2020 Platform May edition commenced his interaction with Pastor Poju Oyemade the convener commending the effort of the organization in addressing the globally threatening issue in their little way. 

Proceeding with his first question Pastor Poju asked: “as Chief Executive Officer of your state, give a status report of your state and measures put into place to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

Dr Okowa in response to this stated how great it feels to address Nigeria. “So far”, he continued, “Delta state has recorded 17 cases and discharged 2, others are managed at the various facilities across the state. Having known the possibility of the spread, a task force was set to put medical facilities in place prior to its penetration to the state. there are currently 4 isolation centres in strategic locations in the state with every key professional trained to battle the pandemic. All these were commenced before the 16th of March.”

Dr Okowa also detailed on how all preventive measures had been communicated to the citizenry. “Contact tracing is essential and Delta state is at the forefront of doing this with all contacts of positive patients traced. There are enough PPE provided for health professionals. Training is ongoing concurrently as all these measures are in place. As at 2nd of May 2020, he stated the existence of a mini testing laboratory in Asaba ending the need to take samples to the isolation centre in Ira for testing. 

Pastor Poju asked him what the most challenging part of this pandemic is especially as a medical Doctor. The Governor owned up to the challenges especially those in the informal sector who live on daily wages and a total lockdown will translate to families going hungry. 

To this end, palliative measures are in place to deal with this.

The other part is the case of stigmatization preventing people from owning to their carriage of this disease which is a major problem if it persists. To this end, there are sensitizations going on to change the narrative.

On how COVID-19 has affected the state’s year plan and measures taken to curb the negative effect, Dr Okowa explained on the inevitable the negative impact of this pandemic and the obvious salary structure of delta state which is higher than most states. He stated that there is a current budget review which will have more consideration on the populace while some social investments, agriculture, farmers are assisted through funding for fertilizers, youth training and skill acquisition, especially the girl child training programme. 

There is also a consideration for SMEs in the state through funding. Major constructions will have to wait till 2021 until the state economy is stabilised. 

There will be an encouragement to have vulnerable people enrolled in the Health Insurance Scheme of the state. The governor drew his session to a close with the resolve to fight the pandemic tooth and nail with the Delta people in high consideration especially the vulnerable population.

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