Says certain key strategies yet to be implemented
By Chioma Obinna
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on Thursday, decried what it described as ‘ absence’ of purposely-built isolation centers across the country unlike in the past where Infectious Diseases Hospitals existed in every state of the Federation.
The NMA also pointed out that certain key strategies have been largely absent or sub-optimally implemented in the ongoing efforts to contain the spread of COVVID19.
Making these points in a press statement made available to Vanguard and signed by the President of the NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile said the severe inadequacy of critical care facilities like purposely-built Care Units (ICU), in Nigerian hospitals, is making matters worse in the containment efforts.
According to him, ICUs with Ventilators/artificial respirators make the difference between life and death in complications from Covid-19.
“It is scary that the dearth of these facilities is the same in all the 36 States and the FCT.
“Given these defaults/inadequacies, NMA, therefore, calls for immediate commencement of supervised self-isolation in any manner that will protect public health.”
Faduyile said immediate commencement of supervised self- isolation would ensure that returnees from the countries with high prevalence will adhere to instructions and confine themselves to a location in order to protect members of the public.
“Physical can visits by the designated officials to the returnees to track their locations, taking their vital signs and those of each of their contacts rather than voluntary reports of failing health and serial testing of their samples will deliver better results.”
The NMA further called on the Federal Government to immediately commence a strategic partnership/collaboration with the states and their relevant organisations on day to day basis as the weakest link in the chain can rubbish every effort of the stronger parts.
He further added that partnership and cooperation would be most needed in the area of technical support and funding.
Continuing, he said the association has observed with dismay that some State Governments are vacillating on the closure of schools and banning social and religious gatherings, basking in the euphoria that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their States.
The NMA also demanded uniformity in implementing the lock-down orders on non-essential services.
“We, therefore, call on President Buhari to issue an Executive order to enforce
compliance. NMA appreciates the leadership role being played by the Federal government so far and efforts of some State governments in containing this looming danger.
The NMA president specially commended the Lagos State government for standing out so far and the godly spirit of philanthropy of individuals like Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, who have made substantial donations to assist the country in the fight.
He called on other Nigerians and corporate organisations to assist with technical, financial and other supportive measures.
“The NMA appreciates the sacrifice of medical doctors and other health care workers who have continued to do their work despite the stark reality of being in the frontline in the war against COVID-19.
“We urge governments at all levels to ensure the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other incentives that can motivate the health workforce to give in their best.”
He called on NMA State chapters including the FCT to mobilise volunteers (doctors who are active as well as those in the private sector) to assist in the area of service delivery at health facilities, contact tracing and wholesome information/public health education campaigns in collaboration with the public authorities.
The NMA chair requests all NMA State Chairmen to compile and submit the list of volunteers (public health physicians, infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists, GPs, health communication experts, nurses, and other health professionals) who would be willing to assist in areas with high prevalence at present, to the National Secretariat of NMA on or before the close of work on Friday 27th March 2020.
“It is a highly held opinion of the Association that for the gains from institutional memory and individual expert experience, the Authorities at the federal and state levels should reconvene the 2014 Ebola Team to assist at this point. This will ensure that all useful previous experiences including their failings contribute to the efforts of today for greater success. “
Faduyile urged their members and other healthcare workers everywhere to ensure strict adherence to Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) protocols at all times.