By Chioma Obinna
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on monday rejected plans by the Federal Government to invite Chinese doctors into the country, describing it as an embarrassment to the membership of the association and other health workers in the country.
Making their position known in a press statement, the President of the NMA, Dr Francis Faduyile who expressed dismay over government’s decision at this time of a global pandemic,said the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), grossly inadequate test kits and test centres across the country and the absolute lack of any form of insurance for the workforce were important issues begging for attention at this time.
“It is a thing of embarrassment to the membership of the Association and other health workers who are giving their best in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic under deplorable working conditions, and a fragile health system to be subjected to the ignominy of not being carried along in arriving at such a decision.
“It is a great disservice to the morale of the long-suffering frontline health workforce if the Government goes ahead to invite these Chinese doctors. The invitation demeans their sacrifices so far in this pandemic.
“We are therefore profoundly dismayed to learn that the Federal Government is instead inviting the Chinese who are not out of the woods themselves. The spike in cases and the death toll from COVID -19 in Italy coincided with the arrival of the Chinese in the guise of offering assistance. Even the United Nations has only just recently commended the efforts of Nigeria so far.”
Faduyile also expressed grave concern that the Government did not take into consideration the extant laws regulating the practice of medicine in Nigeria as enshrined in the Medical and Dental Council Act. This is one such circumstance where the Medical and Dental Council of Nigerian should be consulted to grant necessary approvals to foreigners to interact with Nigerianpatients.”
“We expect the Government to show appreciation by channelling the available resources and donations to improving testing facilities to detect more cases and ramp up capacity to train more workers.
He said NMA was aware of a large pool of General Medical and Specialist Practitioners who are either unemployed or underemployed that can be engaged instead of bringing foreigners who aside from national security concerns may not be conversant with Nigeria’s culture, terrain and peculiar challenges.
“NMA believes that this invitation is ill-timed and of no overbearing significance considering that whatever experiences the Chinese have can be shared by digital technology through conferencing bearing in mind that Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu has only just returned from China. We are not averse to the donation of equipment and supplies because we can always do with such support as even the developed countries receive support,” he stated.
The NMA urged the Federal Government to review and approve better welfare incentives to the frontline medical personnel.
“The provision of adequate PPE, opening and properly equipping more isolation centres and health facilities across the country is an excellent first step. Deploying more resources to facilitate testing as we are beginning to witness community transmission of COVID 19 is equally a better application of scarce resources.”
“NMA urges the Government to expand the Presidential Task Force to include other critical stakeholders including journalists and the civil society to ensure more robust engagement, especially as the decisions of the task force, has implications for the health, wealth and security of our country.
“The Association, however, expects that the Government would rescind the decision in the overall interest of the country.
“The NMA would loathe reviewing her participation in the fight against COVID-19 considering the grave implications and the risk to the lives of her members should the Government go ahead with this ill-thought-out invitation at this time.”