March 24, 2020

COVID-19: Shut all borders now — Dr Osahon Enabulele, CMA president

    President, CMA, Dr Osahon Enabulele

By Chioma Obinna

The President of Commonwealth Medical Association, Dr Osahon Enabulele  called for total closure of all entry points into Nigeria even as he urged the government to urgently deploy more facilities and resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic that has led to thousands of deaths globally.

Enabulele who made the call after he undertook an inspection tour of the isolation centres in Lagos, Gwagwalada, and the National Hospital Abuja, to ascertain the state of preparedness of the government health institutions, also called for effective reduction of mass gathering.

Enabulele said the total closure became necessary considering the increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases into the country.

READ ALSO: COVID 19: Confirmed cases in Nigeria move to 40 as 4 are confirmed by NCDC

“There is, therefore, need for government to go beyond partial closures, by extending the closure to every point of entry into Nigeria.  I want to urge the government to quickly consider this so that the cases already in the country can be effectively managed. Every effort needs to be made to get the government to enforce a total shut down of the points of entry into the country, especially as a fragile health system like that of Nigeria may find it difficult to cope with the kind of explosive situation that occurred in China and Europe’.

‘’We must also mobilise and empower people and communities at state and local levels to join in the fight against the pandemic. Their orientation, level of awareness and mobilisation need to be heightened. This is very important, as it seems there is still some level of disbelief in terms of accepting the reality on the ground”.   ‘Everybody must be made to see this as a national duty”.

Acknowledging the efforts made by the Director-General of NCDC, the Federal Ministry of Health, some State governments, Enabulele said: ‘’There is an urgent need to improve the capacity of the few Isolation centres through the deployment of more health personnel, resources and equipment, as well as the recruitment of more frontline health personnel, and empowerment of the few healthcare personnel currently on the ground, through the provision of adequate and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and incentives.

This is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Isolation centres, as well as boost the morale of health workers, particularly those already in the field combating the dreaded pandemic’’.

He also called for the expansion and appropriate equipping of the isolation centres, the public health institutions, including the Primary Health Care facilities, as well as the capacity of the health personnel at various levels.

‘’A nationally mobilized citizenry is crucial and has helped other countries in addressing the scourge.

‘’From the evidence on the ground, the NCDC seems already overburdened. There is, therefore, the need to consider unbundling the NCDC to enable the agency more responsively attend to the practical realities in the field.

READ ALSO: [Breaking] Covid-19: Lagos Gov, Sanwo-Olu, shuts markets across Lagos

He further called for the expansion and strengthening of Nigeria’s Diagnostic capacity. I see no reason why Nigeria should have only 4 public diagnostic reference laboratories to cater to the over 200 million Nigerian population. Why shouldn’t each of the Federal teaching hospitals and Federal medical centres have the diagnostic capacity for managing cases of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases?

As a start, I expect the government to provide each of the federal public hospitals with a diagnostic reference laboratory or at least two in each geopolitical zones.  ‘The availability of screening facilities and test kits will be useful in current efforts to contain the coronavirus in Nigeria. It will encourage people who feel they may have been exposed, to turn up for the screening.