By Rita Chioma
In a tell-all interview with Utibe Umoren of African Independent Television, AIT, Chief Raymond Dokpesi Jr., Executive Chairman of DAAR Communications PLC shared his experience at the COVID-19 Isolation centre of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital along with other pertinent issues plaguing Nigeria’s fight against the novel coronavirus.
Chief Raymond Dokpesi Jr. who along with 5 members of his family, including wife, 3 kids and father – founder of DAAR Communications PLC, High Chief Raymond A.A Dokpesi, had previously tested positive for COVID-19, spoke about his restoration to full health, giving thanks to the Almighty God, the minister of Health, the Head of the Presidential Task Force and the diligent frontline medical staff who attended to him diligently.
However, Chief Raymond raised concerns about some of the NCDC’s practices, calling for a review especially regarding testing and confidentiality. He noted “I did see the response on social media yesterday evening from the NCDC that they do not give results to patients and that they send them to the State.
First and foremost- that is a breach of Doctor-Patient Confidentiality. I gave my test to a Doctor in confidence, how can you send my results to another third-party? There are ethical questions around that particularly. There are people in the ministry of the FCD or FCDA who have my test results while I, the patient, don’t have it. I think it’s certainly something the authorities have to look at and reconsider as far as their policies are concerned.”
Speaking on the peculiarities between the COVID-19 situation in Nigeria and the rest of the world, Chief Raymond tasked the Nigerian science community to step up and rise to the challenge with research on the realities on ground.
“We have over 5000 cases of COVID-19 here in Nigeria, I think it is high-time for our Doctors, our researchers and the various agencies responsible to start doing some primary research based on what it is that we are experiencing here.
“The index case of COVID-19 in Nigeria if I’m not mistaken was the Italian who came on the 27th of February. So this is more than two months later. I have seen journals practically on a daily basis, new research released abroad, how much research is actually released based on what we are actually seeing locally in Nigeria and what our responses are locally in Nigeria?”
On a final note, Chief Raymond raised alarm about Nigeria’s testing, warning that the current process risked putting more people in harm’s way. “There are serious limitations and challenges with our testing. First and foremost, we do in Nigeria what we call the PCR. It’s the most effective way of testing whether you’re positive or negative. But when they do take the samples, it only lasts 24hours before it is condemned.
“So there’s a limitation to how many testing machines we have and how many tests we are able to do on a daily basis. Going by how long it takes even from when you do your test and when you get your result, it’s very obvious that a lot of those test swabs would be useless by the time it is inputted into the machine. And for those that are not, after three or four days, even if you are negative and you remain in an environment where there are others who are positive, your chances of infection are very high- exposure rate is very high.
“As soon as you test negative, ideally you should be released. It’s no good keeping me there for another four or five days before I get to know my results. By which time I could be negative but I may have been infected and when I’m discharged I’m positive again.”