July 7, 2020

Non-inclusion of COVID-19 cases by NCDC: C’River NMA goes on indefinite strike

Nigeria ranks 14th of 18 countries with poor health system; trails Rwanda, as South Africa tops

By Chioma Obinna

Members of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, in Cross River State, on Monday, embarked on an indefinite strike over failure of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to reflect the five COVID-19 confirmed cases in its daily situation report since July 1, 2020.

The medical doctors in its notice of withdrawal of medical services with reference number ‘NMA CRS/SG/2020/07/254” demanded an immediate explanation from the agency and the state ministry of health.

The notice jointly signed by the State NMA Chairman, Dr. Agam E. Ayuk and the State Secretary, Dr. Ezoke Epoke, explained that the doctors were withdrawing their services both in private and public hospitals until the NCDC and the State Ministry of Health give urgent and prompt attention to the issues raised.

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The doctors said the tests in question were done at the NCDC accredited Molecular Laboratory at Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State and wondered why epidemiology code numbers have to be generated by Cross River State Ministry of Health before results of samples sent by University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, an NCDC approved Molecular Laboratory can be published by NCDC, despite having approved UCTH as an independent Test Centre.

Part of the notice reads: “The doctors also stated that: “The NCDC is put on notice that the Cross River State Government has abdicated her responsibility of contact tracing, treatment, and care for the five confirmed cases which may not be unconnected with the delay in the publication of the results by NCDC.

Congress demands the immediate activation of the Adiabo Isolation Centre and commencement of surveillance and contact tracing in the State.

“The members of the Association and residents of Cross River State have been put in a precarious public health and safety situation due to the confusion and uncertainty created by the delayed updating of the results by NCDC.

“Congress demands an explanation from NCDC, why, despite several complaints of compromised testing in the State, investigations have not commenced on the unethical activities carried out by Cross River State COVID-19 Task Force

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“The Association passed a vote of no confidence on the Commissioner for Health – Dr. Betta Edu, and further referred her to the NMA National Disciplinary Committee and Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) for the unethical handling of COVID-19 testing in the State, thus putting lives at risk and bringing the Association to disrepute.

“We trust that the relevant authorities will act decisively, within the shortest possible time to bring to a timely end our total and indefinite withdrawal of medical services.”