Dr. Togamana was responding to a question by the Opposition Leader, Matthew Wale during question time, Thursday.
He said since the pandemic was declared a lot of resources have been diverted to address gaps in our COVID-19 preparedness plans.
“This has both positive and unintended negative impacts on health services. It has for example brought about an improvement in our isolation wards both at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) and in a number of our provinces making us more ready to contain the pandemic and allow for the repatriation of our citizens from abroad,” he said.
“It has also improved our laboratory services and testing capabilities.”
On the downside, Dr. Togamana said COVID-19 has stretched our human resources and has diverted our attention from the core functions of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS).
As a result, the annual operation plan execution rate by most national programs was around 35 percent by June.
“In the provinces, the outreach activities dropped by 14 percent from January to June, and immunization coverage decreased by six percent compared to the same period in 2019.
“Fortunately, the country’s health system is resilient enough to withstand the disruption caused by the pandemic as most of our health facilities are still operational.
“Our antenatal visits coverage remains (at the same level) as in 2019 and the number of infant and maternal deaths have declined in the first half of the year compared to 2019,” Dr. Togamana said.