Public attention has been drawn to the consistent action and smart investments of the Lagos State Government, particularly in the area of access to medical facilities, road construction and maintenance, school renovation and provision of affordable houses.

The Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration has continued to seek new ways of solving myriad of problems confronting the State, just as it is focusing on ways to grow the economy in order to achieve its ‘Greater Lagos’ agenda.

One of the recently commissioned projects that mirrors the trail- blazing tempo that the State government has become synonymous with across the country is the Triage and Oxygen Therapy Centre at Eti-Osa Local Government. The oxygen centre, commissioned last December, is one of the ten permanent Triage and Oxygen Centres constructed to provide swift emergency oxygen therapy to residents who require such service.

The Centres would serve as Oxygen Therapy Centre and Sample collection Centres for residents requiring COVID-19 PCR test and oxygen therapy support. The ten centres are located in Alimosho, Isolo, Surulere, Gbagada, Ifako-Ijaiye, Ibeju-Lekki, Apapa, Mushin and Amuwo Odofin areas of the State.

Construction of the Triage and Oxygen Centres was managed by the Lagos State Infrastructure Asset Management Agency, LASIAMA, in compliance with the government’s new blueprint for health infrastructure to cater for the rising need of COVID-19 patients.

Undoubtedly, the importance of triage is well-recognized and the benefit of oxygen therapy to avoid scarcity of life-saving clinical equipment and consumables in preparedness to contain the second wave of COVID-19 in the State cannot be overemphasized. Indeed, worst scenario of citizens having to rent oxygen machine at home is better imagined than experienced.

Modern medical triage was invented by Dominique Jean Larrey, a surgeon who treated the wounded during the Napoleonic Wars according to the observed gravity of their injuries and the urgency for medical care, regardless of their rank and nationality. Triage was used further during World War 1 by French doctors treating the wounded on the battlefield at the aid stations behind the front. Those responsible for the removal of the wounded from the battlefield, or their care afterwards, would divide the victims into three categories: Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive; Those who are unlikely to live, regardless of what care they receive; Those for whom immediate care may make a positive difference in outcome.

Given that Lagos State is recording increase in the number of people presenting with difficulty in breathing and requiring urgent oxygen therapy, provision of the facility is vital.

At the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, the government has constructed a lot of temporary facilities. However, the Triage and Oxygen Centres idea is part of the steps in moving away from reactive response.

The Triage and Oxygen centre is a permanent facility, and will be an addition to the existing medical infrastructure in the State even after the pandemic. It was constructed to be functional during and after the pandemic. After COVID-19, it can be used as Immunisation Centre and for any other public health interventions.

The benefit of the centres is that any suspected COVID-19 patient, especially when having shortness of air and gasping for breath can be taken to any of the nearby triage and oxygen centre and when stable transferred to the isolation centre. This makes death from lack of oxygen avoidable.

The infrastructure is energy sustainable. It is designed to be cool with natural ventilation. It is spacious. The centres comply with the government’s infection prevention control approach as the bed spaces of patients have a little bit of spaces from each other.

The government’s new blueprint on Health Infrastructure was factored into the construction – low carbon emission, energy sustainable, spacious, allows for cross ventilation and open to accommodate natural air as well.

Speaking during the official launch of the facility, Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the need to better manage severe-to-critical COVID-19 cases spurred the government to build and deploy the oxygen therapy centres in 10 high burden Local Government Areas.

According to him, “One of the strategies adopted in response to the recent increase in COVID-19 infection is the provision of the COVID-19 Permanent Sample Collection Triage and Oxygen Therapy Centres in 10 Local Government Areas across Lagos to support patients with oxygen before they are transferred to care centres”.

The project, which was managed by LASIAMA, is inevitable to prepare against the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State.  The facility could not have come at a better time than now, when the State is experiencing an increase in the number of people having difficulty in breathing and requiring urgent oxygen therapy.

The Governor explained that the facility, which is a permanent edifice, will be an invaluable addition to the existing infrastructure in the hospital, noting that the facility after the pandemic can be used for other medical purposes.

Meanwhile, the second wave of the COVID-19 calls for a full reawakening of caution and precaution. The complacency that crept in over the last few months, as a result of government early interventions when cases started to decline from peak in August, must now give way to an abundance of vigilance.

Musbau is an Assistant Director, Public Affairs Unit, Lagos State Infrastructure Asset Management Agency, LASIAMA.

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