By Chioma Obinna
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on Friday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to issue an order of unfettered access for Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to carry out COVID-19 tests in Kogi State.
According to NMA, Kogi State’s refusal to allow NCDC work in the state had ensured that Kogi people remain in the dark, untested; posing a risk to the entire nation as it shares borders with 11 other states.
In a statement by the President of NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile, and Secretary-General, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote, NMA accused the Kogi State government of resisting NCDC’s efforts to ensure that citizens of the state are tested for COVID-19, to the association’s greatest dismay.
The union of medical doctors said: “The attitude of the Kogi State government is both ignorantly meddlesome and irresponsible. It is a demonstration of undisguised hatred against the people it swore to protect and nurture.
“The Association, therefore, appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the state governor and his officials to order immediately.
“He may issue an order granting unfettered access and protection to NCDC officials into Kogi State and do all that is necessary to contain COVID-19, which we believe is gaining a serious foothold in the state.
“This order may include citing testing facilities in the Army Barracks or any secured location free from the encumbrances posed by the state government.
“This advisory has become necessary even as the nation is considering the further easing of the lockdown, given the fact that Kogi State has borders with 11 other states of the Federation and Lokoja, the state capital, a significant road transport interchange.
“We remind Nigerian citizens to take personal responsibility for their safety and protection from COVID-19 now than ever before.”
They further restated that on no account should healthcare professionals at any health facility in Kogi State or elsewhere be harassed or intimidated on account of rendering avowed services as it relates to appropriate management of COVID-19 patients.
“We call on our time-tested colleagues and other health workers to continue to perform their functions, and strongly advise them to protect themselves first before treating and saving others.”
Recall that Kogi State government had repeatedly denied any case of COVID-19 in the state.
The NMA statement added that: “The Nigerian Medical Association has repeatedly called on all Nigerians to avail the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, an agency of government established by an Act of the National Assembly, unimpeded access and assistance to render its duties.
“The Kogi State government needs to be reminded that the NCDC is empowered to ‘prevent, detect, monitor and control’ activities and programmes for the national response against infectious disease epidemics and other public health emergencies; and also to ‘lead, develop, coordinate’ these activities in the country.
“The people are, therefore, undiagnosed and untreated even though COVID-19 epidemiologic pattern has 80 percent of cases that present with none or very mild symptoms, yet shedding the virus in their airway and innocently infecting others who may become sicker and die.
“The identification of these cases is through testing, according to standardised protocols.
“We are incredibly disturbed by the response of the Kogi State government through the State Commissioner for Information.
“The Commissioner not only described the process of arriving at the diagnosis as fraudulent, but he also went on to smear the frontline health workers and the NCDC on live national television.
“His use of profane words is capable of demoralising the exemplary gold-winning health workers and the untiring NCDC, which possibly can lead to a national catastrophe.
“The implied consequences of these unbecoming actions are what the NMA condemns.”