July 15, 2020

COVID-19: Commonwealth doctors want countries to plan for pandemics

UK says China has questions to answer over coronavirus outbreak

Some doctors have urged Nigeria and other Commonwealth countries to prioritise saving of lives and use the opportunity of COVID-19 to prepare for future global pandemics or outbreak.

The doctors also warned the countries to stop politicising COVID-19 pandemic in order to reduce its mortality rate.

They made the assertions on Wednesday at the first in series of Webinar lined up by the Commonwealth Medical Association ( CMA).

Its theme was: “Regional Perspectives on Clinical Case Management of COVID-19; Current Realities, Best Practices, and Challenges.”

The webinar, aimed at addressing critical issues on the COVID-19 pandemic, had no fewer than 1,420 participants from over 42 countries of the world.

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It was chaired by a former Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Akin Osibogun.

The Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA) is an NGO with main objective to assist and strengthen the capacities of national medical associations (NMAs) of countries within the Commonwealth.

It is to improve the health, well-being and human rights of their countries and communities.

The Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus, represented by Executive Director, Emergency Programme, Dr Mike Ryain, said it was saddening that COVID-19 was being politicised by some countries.

According to Ghebreyesus, countries must focus on research to provide vaccines, which will be vital to preventing and treating COVID-19 as there is much the world can do to save lives.

The director-general said: “We can do so much right now to reduce mortality, empower our communities and provide better, clearer and more consistent governance and coordination to drive a well-coordinated, managed multi-sectoral and political leadership to respond to the pandemic.’’

He, however, acknowledged that the challenge with any emerging disease was lack of proven counter-measures, such as therapeutic drugs.

“Accelerating research is essential to finding those life-saving antiviral drugs and treatment for this pandemic,” Ghebreyesus said.

He said complications of the disease could be very difficult to manage, hence, the need for early detection of patient whether moderate or developing complications.

“Early application of intervention to reduce mortality, coping with the interventions and other forms of care interventions in the ICU to reduce second re-complication in terms of care are very essential,’’ he said.

Ghebreyesus encouraged international collaboration among medical associations during the pandemic.

The Secretary-General of the World Medical Association, WMA, Otmar Kloiber, urged physicians not to limit themselves with the containment of the virus, but take advantage of the era to prepare for the next global outbreak.

According to him, it is time for medical doctors around the world to bring the loose threads of their clinical learning for the first six months of the pandemic.

He also urged scientists to work together and take the opportunity to improve, get better, get new clinical insight to learn the path of physiology as a team.

“Ranging from the Biologist to the epidemiologist, the public health specialist, the critical care specialist and the family physician.

“As comity of physicians, we have to address some very difficult questions; this has not been the hour of international solidarity.

“Despite the efforts of the WHO, which we all have to praise, this has been a time of political egoism, nationalism.

“The virus has shown us that the borders do not matter; actually it has been more international than we have been and that should give us now the task to be better prepared to learn, not only for COVID-19.

“This world cannot survive if everyone thinks more about themselves and their countryies,’’ he said.

The Convener of the webinar and President CMA, Dr Osahon Enabulele, acknowledged that global community was facing one of the greatest afflictions in the last 100 years.

According to Enabulele, the Commonwealth accounts for over 15 per cent of the world’s confirmed cases of COVID-19, saying that CMA had made several interventions along the various pillars of the containment efforts.

Osahon explained that the webinar series was part of the interventional efforts, particularly, as it concerns patients care, safety, protection and motivation of healthcare workers across the region.

“We are aware that some countries have been devising several approaches, but we believe that as Commonwealth that it is time to connect and engage people, share experiences and knowledge and hopefully develop a consensus framework going forward.

“Apart from patient care, we have also paid due attention to the very issue of welfare and the wellbeing of our toiling health workers who are working very hard for patients all over the world and ensuring those affected are treated,’’ he said.

Also, Mrs Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General, Commonwealth Nations, commended WHO for its efforts so far in addressing the pandemic.

“Sacrifices of health workers and that of those who loved them have been great, but the debt the society owes them, must never be forgotten.

“We need approaches to help our wellbeing.

“We need goodwill, mutual support, knowledge and sharing of resources, so the input of ideas of those represented and convened by the CMA, is critical if we are to understand or fully respond more effectively to the disease,”
Scotland said.

She urged scientists to make their voices heard as their experiences from day to day interaction with patients and challenges would shape policies and planning interventions.

Contributing, a Professor of Paediatrics, University of Toronto, Prof. Upton Allen, in his presentation on COVID-19 in Canada, stressed the need for appropriate messaging to restore public trust.

Allen said there was need for education for adequate coverage of the disease.

He regretted that communities were very sceptical about the messaging from the scientists and the politicians.