- Demands President Buhari’s intervention
BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI, ABUJA – The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has cautioned Governor Yahaya Bello and his All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration in Kogi state against endangering the lives of Nigerians in the Confluence State amid the coronavirus pandemic in the country
Describing the attitude and response of Kogi State government to the deadly virus as ‘ignorantly meddlesome and irresponsible’, the NMA said this is unfortunately putting the safety of health workers and citizens in jeopardy.
The Association therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently call the Governor to order for deliberately undermining the mandate and work of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The NMA President, Dr Francis Faduyile, said in Abuja on Friday that: “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.
“The Nigerian Medical Association has repeatedly called on all Nigerians to avail the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, an agency of government established by an Act of the National Assembly, unimpeded access and assistance to render its duties.”
The statement by Faduyile further read in part: “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 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 of Information.”
According to the NMA, also regrettable is the State government reaction through one of its Commissioner who “not only described the process of arriving at the diagnosis as fraudulent, but 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.”
In urging the President to call Governor Bello and his officials to order immediately, the NMA said: “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.”
The NMA President said its advisory has become necessary, especially as the nation considers further easing of the lockdown and given that Kogi State borders eleven (11) other states of the Federation and Lokoja, the State capital is a significant road transport interchange.
“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”, the NMA President ssid