The federal government has no statistics to measure which schools are prepared for re-opening amid the coronavirus pandemic, President of the Nigeria Medical Association, Professor Innocent Ujah, said on Monday.
Prof Ujah made the comment while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
Based on the federal government’s directive, schools resumed in several states nationwide on Monday.
But critics say the government hasn’t done enough to ensure schools are equipped to observe COVID-19 regulations such as social distancing and wearing of face masks.
“If we know that children should go to school, what facilities have we put in place? Our problem is that we do a lot of talking and do very little,” Prof Ujah said. “It is also true that we do not listen to experts.
“What we have been saying is that the coronavirus is totally unprepared for and one year after, what lessons have we learn?
“We know that students should go to school, we know that they should maintain NCDC protocol. But what have we done in schools? Nigeria is a very interesting country, a country full of contradictions.
“The truth is we have no statistics as far as I know, of the number of schools that are ready, whether public or private, and what they should put in place. I feel that we are very sentimental as a nation.
“While we are saying that schools should be reopened, we should be prepared. Who are those monitoring? Who are those supervising the process? Because we can talk and we don’t supervise.”
The Nigerian Medical Association on Monday said COVID-19 vaccines being imported into the country must undergo a quick clinical trial before it is administered to citizens.
According to the NMA President, Professor Innocent Ujah, reactions to vaccines differ among different races.
“If the vaccines come to Nigeria, we need to quickly do our own evaluation of that vaccine,” he said, during an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily. “I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that in the process of developing this vaccine, in the clinical trials, whether any African countries were involved. I’m not too sure, but it’s possible.
“Then because of the biology, because of the environment, because of our genetic composition, we need to do our own clinical trials very quickly before it can be used on Nigerians. While we do not question the efficacy and safety, the responses vary from place to place.
“Recall that when we were using chloroquine, the southern part was not responding to chloroquine, some parts of the north were. But in totality it was thought that chloroquine were no longer effective and we changed.”
The NMA is also seeking additional funding from the federal government as doctors continue to suffer from the deadly pandemic.
At least 20 doctors died in the past week after contracting COVID-19, according to the chairman of the NMA in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr Enema Amodu.
The doctors died in the course of treating infected patients who failed to disclose their true health status, Amodu said.
“We don’t want anybody to die in the service of their country,” Ujah said. “That’s why we talk about infection prevention and control. And we believe that working with the federal government, the PTF, and the Ministry of Health, we need to continually train our health workers – doctors, nurses – and anyone who has anything to do with patients on infection prevention and control.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has explained how no fewer than 20 members of the union died of COVID-19 in the last one week.
NMA Chairman in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr Enema Amodu, disclosed this to reporters at a briefing on Friday in Abuja.
He noted that the late medical doctors contracted the disease in the course of treating infected patients who failed to disclose their true health status.
Dr Amodu, however, called on patients visiting clinics and hospitals to declare their true health status to avoid exposing doctors and other health workers to the risk of disease infection.
He said, “For those of us in the health sector, we have lost quite a number of colleagues in the last one week alone. Across the country, we have lost not less than 20 doctors in the last one week.”
“We also want to use this opportunity to talk to our patients; as you come to us in the hospitals, in the clinics, please oblige us.
“Wear your mask. Tell us the truth about your past medical condition and don’t hold any information back,” he added.
Second Wave, More Catastrophic
As more doctors and health workers are contracting COVID-19, the NMA FCT chairman appealed to the government to improve supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the medical facilities.
He also called for the provision of essential drugs in the hospitals, saying the doctors were ready to combat the second wave of the virus.
According to Dr Amodu who is an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) surgeon and consultant, it is important for patients coming to hospitals to fully disclose their health status as he once contracted the disease from an infected patient.
“I am the Chairman of NMA, FCT and by the special grace of God, I am standing here today as a survivor because I inadvertently saw a patient that I didn’t know had COVID-19 and she didn’t tell me, and she knew.
“I was exposed, I contacted the virus, I developed symptoms but by the grace of God, my colleagues rallied around me and I survived,” he revealed.
The medical doctor said, “This second wave is so overwhelming; this second wave is more catastrophic, and this probably would be because a lot of people have gone back to the way of doing things.
“They have thought that the virus is over, it has come, and it is gone, and they have let their guards down.”
The Senate should amend the Nigerian Constitution to stop the President, governors, members of the National Assembly, and other public office holders from seeking medical treatment abroad with taxpayers’ money.
President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Professor Innocent Ujah, stated this during an interview with Channels Television on Friday.
He granted the interview a day after the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs asked State House officials to equip the clinic at the Presidential Villa to ensure President Muhammadu Buhari would have no need to travel abroad for medical treatment.
“What the Senate is saying, in my own opinion, is purely political. It has no force of law. If they want it to have force of law, they should enact it in the Constitution; amend the Constitution and make it a law,” the NMA president said.
He added, “What we need to know is that nobody can be prevented from accessing health from anywhere in the world, but it should not be at government expenses.
“I think that is the most important thing. The second thing is that they have talked about funds for the State House clinic; that money has not been released.”
Professor Ujah believes the position of the lawmakers is not new as the NMA has previously called for the improvement of the nation’s health sector to discourage public office holders from embarking on medical trips abroad.
He added that if the State House clinic has been certified not good enough for the President, it should be upgraded with the provision of needed equipment and personnel.
According to the NMA president, it will be unwise to say people should not access facilities in other places, especially when such is done with personal money.
He, however, stressed the need for the government to strengthen the nation’s health system to respond to the challenges of the people, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and thereafter.
“If it is passed into law, then that will be operational because making a statement like that has no force of law,” Professor Ujah insisted.
He added, “We are saying the State House clinic is not good enough for the President to be attended to and, therefore, it is only when the place is upgraded, facilities are available, human capacity development is improved, equipment are bought, installed and functional, that we can clearly make that statement and it is not only for the President, it is for all of them, including the senators, members of the House of Representatives, and others.”
Doctors in Cross River State have declared an indefinite industrial action over the kidnap of their colleague, Dr Godwin Udo of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in the state, Dr. Innocent Abang, disclosed this on Wednesday during a telephone interview in Calabar.
Abang said that the victim was kidnapped in his residence at Bateba Street on Sunday.
“It is true that Dr. Udo has been kidnapped. In fact, we got to know about it yesterday and we are taking it up from there. His car was left at the point where he was taken away at Bateba Street in Calabar,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Irene Ugbo, confirmed the kidnap to Channels Television via a telephone interview.
She said: “The police are aware that Doctor Udo has been kidnapped. Modalities are in place to see to his release.”
Doctors in Cross River State have embarked on an indefinite strike over COVID-19 concerns in the state.
The doctors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Medical Association, announced their decision to embark on an industrial action via a letter written to the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire on Sunday.
According to the State NMA Chairman, Dr. Agam Ayuk, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has not included Cross River in its daily update on COVID-19.
The Ayuk-led NMA accused the state government of neglecting “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.”
The letter partly read: “Arising from the meeting, all members of Nigerian Medical Association Cross River State branch in public and private hospitals have embarked on a total and indefinite withdrawal of medical services until NCDC and the State Ministry of Health give urgent and prompt attention to the issues raised.
“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.”
The association also accused the state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Betta Edu, over alleged unethical handling of COVID-19 testing in the state.
The doctors 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.”
This comes a week after the Chief Medical Director of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Ikpeme Ikpeme, had announced that five patients tested positive for COVID-19 in the hospital.
But the state government accused him of spreading falsehood.
Governor Ben Ayadi has severally said that efforts made by his administration have prevented a COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
In a statement on Friday co-signed by the NMA President, Francis Faduyile, the NMA said it was disturbed by the Commissioner’s comments which cast aspersions on frontline health workers and the NCDC on live 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 statement read.
The medical association appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the situation and call the state government to order as “we believe” COVID-19 “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 said.
Read the NMA’s full statement here:
Greetings from the NMA National Secretariat, Abuja.
Find below and attached Press Release from the NMA.
SAVE KOGI PEOPLE NOW TO AVERT AN AVOIDABLE CATASTROPHE: AN SOS TO THE PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI GCFR CONCERNING KOGI STATE’S HANDLING OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
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.
Signed: DR. Francis A. Faduyile Dr. Odusote P. Olumuyiwa
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called on the Kano State Government to extend the COVID-19 lockdown on communities in the state.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, NMA Chairman in the state, Dr. Sanusi Bala, made this call on Wednesday.
When asked how residents of the state are reacting to the deadly virus, Bala’s response was positive.
He said, “People are complying when you come to the major public areas – roads, markets, etc. When you go into the community, that is not the situation. It is entirely different.”
The NMA chief also claimed that despite the government’s restriction of movements in the state, youths still engage in sporting activity.
According to him, the young people play what he described as the Corona Cup Tournament rather than maintain the social distancing.
“The youths are playing what they call the Corona Cup Tournament. And you find people sitting around, not observing social distancing. There is a need to extend the lockdown into the communities,” he said.
There has been a major concern in Kano over the COVID-19 situation following the increased number of infections in the state.
At the moment, the state has 73 confirmed cases of the virus, 14 hours after recording 14 more cases of the infection.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed the development via its Twitter handle.
Earlier, the state recorded its first death from the virus with more infections discovered.
In a statement on Monday, the union said it is dismayed about the decision of the Federal Government to invite doctors from China, when the Chinese government is still battling with the pandemic.
According to the statement, Nigeria has a large pool of unemployed general medical and specialist practitioners that the government can engage instead of foreigners who can pose some security concerns at this time.
The NMA advised the government to concentrate on improving the welfare of front-line health workers, provide them with the needed personal protective equipment and other incentives to work.
In its communique, the NMA stated that it would like to review her participation in the fight against COVID-19 considering the serious implications and risks this will bring to their members should the government insist on invitation.
The Kaduna State Branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has threatened that its members will no longer be available to render emergency call services especially at night and odd hours until what they describe as mindless and senseless killings in the State is urgently addressed.
Addressing a news conference at an emergency meeting, Secretariat in the Kaduna state NMA Chairman, Dr. Stephen Akau, says the apparent targeting of medical doctors and their families for abduction has dampened the morale of his members who no longer feel safe to attend to emergencies at odd hours, especially the recent abduction and killing of the wife of a medical doctor, Philip Ataga from their home by kidnappers.
The association says this will no longer be tolerated, and therefore calls on the government to as a matter of urgency rescue the two abducted children of the medical doctor who are still being held by the kidnappers.
The association notes that the worsening state of insecurity in the state and the seeming helplessness of the security apparatus in the face of an increasing rise in the number of doctors as well as other health workers and their families being abducted in the state is a thing of great concern.
The NMA however, declared Thursday, 6th February 2020 as a day of mourning, stressing that medical personnel will only attend skeletal services on that day.
The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Professor Nelson Brambaifa, has said that the Commission will partner with the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, to provide free health care to rural communities in the Niger Delta region. Brambaifa said this when a delegation from the NMA Rivers State Branch, led by the Vice Chairman, Dr Ebbi Robinson, paid him a courtesy visit at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that as an interventionist agency, the Commission would always collaborate with experts to provide adequate health care for rural communities in the Niger Delta region, as part of its commitment to enhance better healthcare delivery to the people.
Brambaifa assured the NMA of the support of the NDDC in training and retraining of medical personnel, noting that it was necessary to bridge the gap in healthcare delivery in the Niger Delta by taking medical experts to the various communities.
The NDDC boss stated that the Commission was determined to make a difference in the health sector through the engagement of relevant partners.
He observed that many people had benefited from the free medical services organized by the Commission to address various health issues. According to him, the NDDC had always made efforts to bring healthcare to the door-steps of rural dwellers.
He said that the NDDC free medical mission made it possible to assemble medical experts in different areas of specialization to attend to the needs of people who would otherwise not have access to such highly qualified medical personnel.
Earlier in his remarks, the Vice Chairman of NMA, Dr Ebbi Robinson, commended the NDDC for promoting health-related programmes that help to reduce the medical challenges facing the people of the region.
He said: “We want to partner with NDDC in manpower development in the health sector. There is need to sponsor the training of specialties in the medical sector and we need the support of the NDDC in training and retraining of medical personnel.”
Dr Robinson said the NMA was making arrangements for its Annual General Meeting, AGM, in the Rivers State capital and would, therefore, require the support of the NDDC.
He said that the progamme for the AGM would include free health services for members of the public and a community outreach programme.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called for improved budgeting of the health sector.
NMA President, Francis Fajuyile made this appeal during a conference over the weekend in Osogbo the Osun state capital.
He said that government is giving less attention to healthcare and added that the introduction of Universal Health Coverage is needed to improve healthcare delivery of the country.
“We have a myriad of problems affecting us as medical practitioners, the first one is about funding. We need the government to fund health more appropriately and the funding has a lot to do with the equipment that we need to have in the hospitals,” he said.
Fajuyile also decried the poor state of most hospitals in the country and urged the governments at all levels to see to its improvement.
“We need to have a good working environment for the doctors and the patients to be seen and be treated properly.
“It is in this funding that you can employ the adequate number of personnel. Migration of doctors has been fingered that funding of health is one of the major reason why many of our people are leaving the shores of this country.”
On the issue of fake medical practitioners across the country, the NMA President wants security operatives to collaborate with the association to expose culprits.
According to him, quackery is one of the bane of appropriate treatment in this country and should be addressed immediately.
The NMA President believes that fake doctors are not being properly persecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.
He, therefore, wants the association to assist the police in tackling the menace of quacks.
In doing this, Fajuyile said, Nigerians would get the best treatment by skilled workers.