NMA Sends SOS President Buhari on Handling of COVID-19 Issues by Gov. Bello

May 30 01:40 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the entire world has necessitated several extreme measures instituted to prevent and contain the outbreak. On Wednesday, May 27th 2020, the disease was confirmed on two indigenes of Kogi State. One of the patients said to be a known community, and religious leader referred from the Federal Medical Centre Lokoja was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the National Hospital Abuja.

It is not in doubt that Coronavirus disease is in Nigeria. As at Thursday, May 28th 2020, a total of 8915 Nigerians have contracted the disease diagnosed through a standardised testing process while 259 died, yet some people are still in doubt that COVID-19 is real.

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 stoutly resisted this advisory to the dismay of our Association. The State government need reminding that the NCDC is empowered to “prevent, detect, monitor and control” activities and programs for the national response against infectious disease epidemics and other public health emergencies; and also, to “lead, develop, coordinate” these activities in the country.

Kogi State government especially has hardened its heart and ensured that the Kogi people remain in the dark, untested. The people are therefore undiagnosed and untreated even though COVID-19 epidemiologic pattern has 80% 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 of 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 Nigerian Medical Association condemns. 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 borders eleven (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.

We restate 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.

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