By Joseph Erunke
THE Federal Capital Territory, FCT branch of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has urged the federal government to allow other laboratories test for coronavirus.
The organisation also said there was the urgent need for the government to decentralize testing and turn around time for tests of the virus, by unbundling the workload on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, which has the sole responsibility of testing and confirming COVID-19 cases in the country
The body, in a communique signed by the branch Chairman, executive council of the NMA Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter, Dr. Philip Ekpe, made available to newsmen, Saturday, insisted that “the NCDC should be unbundled with regards to laboratory testing and approval granted by Federal Ministry of Health for facilities with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine to conduct the testing.
“This is to decentralise testing in order not to lose probable cases to the community and reduced waiting time for confirmation,” it noted.
The communique reads in part: “Following the confirmation of the first case of Covid-19 in FCT, we observed that 90 per cent of the confirmed cases were returning travellers to the country, that the turn around time for laboratory testing is high due to the overburdening of NCDC and scarce human resources.
“That there is poor awareness/sensitization in the FCT suburbs/rural areas about the COVID-19 infection, there is poor adherence to social distancing in the FCT especially the suburbs and rural communities, there is a paucity of protective equipment including facemasks, hand sanitizers and Personal Protective Equipment, that there are inadequate designated isolation centres for a probable explosion of the Covid-19 infection in FCT.
“The NCDC should be unbundled with regards to laboratory testing and approval granted by the Federal Ministry of Health for facilities with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine to conduct the testing. This is to decentralize testing in order not to lose probable cases to the community and reduced waiting time for confirmation.”
The communique further called on the Federal Ministry of Health to grant facilities with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines to conduct the testing, provide life insurance to all volunteers, provide steady water and electricity supply to all hospitals for effective infection prevention and control, as well as enforce a two to four weeks lockdown in the FCT and environs
While commending the efforts of the Federal government in containing the outbreak of covid19 in the country so far, the NMA called for a free and subsidized facemask, hand sanitizers and PPEs to health workers and the public respectively.
The Branch Executive Council of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), FCT comprises of the Executive Committee and all affiliate heads in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).