By Okeke Jane
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has called on the government and relevant stakeholders to ensure the immediate commencement of supervised self-isolation in any manner that will protect public health.
The NMA President, Dr. Francis Faduyile who disclosed this to Journalists on Thursday in Abuja, appreciate the efforts of government at all levels to contain the pandemic of COVID-19 in the country.
He however noted that certain key strategies have been largely absent or sub-optimally implemented which includes effective coordination between the federal and states governments, as well as other stakeholders.
Faduyile pointed out that a more result oriented situation would be one where the federal and the states governments are comparing notes, sharing intelligence and taking a uniform stand on issues like modalities for effective implementation of interrupting the chain of transmission (social distancing), case detection, contact tracing and self-isolation.
He added these lapses had resulted in the recent cases where some individuals who defaulted the self-quarantine directives and went about mixing freely with the public.
He further decried the absence of purpose-built isolation centres, unlike in the not distant past where Infectious Diseases Hospitals existed in every states of the federation.
“To make matters worse, in most of our hospitals, there is severe inadequacy of critical care facilities like purpose-built Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
“These ICUs with ventilators and artificial respirators makes the difference between life and death in complications from COVID-19. It is scary that the dearth of these facilities is the same in all the 36 states and the FCT.
“Given these defaults and inadequacies, the NMA therefore called for immediate commencement of supervised self-isolation in any manner that will protect public health.
“This would ensure that returnees from the countries with high prevalence will adhere to instructions and confine themselves to a location in order to protect members of the public.
“Physical visits by the designated officials to the returnees to track their locations, taking their vital signs and those of each of their contacts rather than voluntary reports of failing health and serial testing of their samples will deliver results,” he said.
Faduyile urged the Federal Government to immediately commence a strategic partnership and collaboration with the states and their relevant organizations on day to day basis as the weakest link in chain can rubbish every effort of the stronger parts, adding that working together eliminates this.
He also called for the uniformity in implementing the lock-down orders on non-essential services, which he equally called on President Buhari to issue an Executive order to enforce compliance.
“The NMA appreciates the sacrifice of medical doctors and other health care workers who have continued to do their work despite the stark reality of being in the frontline in the war against COVID-19.
“We urge governments at all levels to ensure the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and oher incentives that can motivate the health work force to give in their best in this situation.
“While appreciating the efforts of our state Chairmen, we call on our state chapters including the FCT to mobilize volunteers (doctors who are active as well as those in the private sector) to assist in the area of service delivery at health facilities, contact tracing and wholesome information and public health education campaigns in collaboration with the public authorities.
“We requestthe state Chairmen to compile and submit the list of volunteers (public health physicians, infectious diseases specialists, epidemiologists,, GPs, health communication experts, nurses, and other health professionals) who will be willing to assist in areas with high prevalence àQ1q present, to the National Secretariat of NMA on or before the close of work on Friday 27th March, 2020,” Faduyile said.
He further called on the authorities at the federal and state levels should reconvene the 2014 Ebola Team to assist at this point, adding that this will ensure that all useful previous experiences including their failing contribute to the efforts of today for greater success.