By Dr. Abubakar Haruna
Indeed, Kano has been in the news for quite some time now. A day hardly goes by without the newspapers, online news portal and the Social Media, being awash with stories of either COVID-19 update in Kano or the “mysterious deaths” which claimed the lives of a number of our prominent citizens.
As somebody who witnessed the COVID-19 outbreak in Kano and has been closely following events as it unfolds, the stories, simply put, rumours of what they describe as “scores” of deaths in Kano come with a measure of hyperbole, employed by misinformed writers to intentionally berate the efforts of Kano state government in tackling challenges posed by the strange deaths recorded so far in Kano state. They may have embarked on such unpleasant mission for political reasons.
Among such exaggerated narratives was published on page 12 of Daily Trust of Wednesday, April 29, 2020 entitled “Hard Knocks for Ganduje, garlands for Matawalle.”
The writer, Timawus Mathias, displayed a flagrant level of naivety, feigning ignorance of drastic measures undertaken by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in containing the numerous health challenges facing Kano.
It is important to emphasize that at no time did Kano state government deny that there were deaths, but the fact remains that some people have decided to blow issues out of proportion.
To say the fact, Kano is bound to grapple with natural occurrences such as what has befallen us (though no one prays for this) considering its population size and status as the commercial hub of northern Nigeria and neigbouring African countries.
It is unfortunate that Mathias who did not sound like a Medical Doctor, outrightly concluded that the series of deaths that occurred in Kano recently was as a result of COVID-19, even when the deceased were never diagnosed to have been carriers of the dreaded pandemic.
When the ugly incident broke out, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje immediately ordered the Ministry of Health to swing into action.
A combined team of health experts from the Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) are currently undertaking verbal autopsy of the dead to enable them ascertain the real causes of the deaths.
Indeed, preliminary investigations by health experts have also shown that most of the deceased were said to have medical history linked to diabetes,High Blood Pressure and acute malaria.
Everyone who is conversant with Kano weather will attest to the fact that during this particular period of the year, Kano experience very hot weather that comes with its peculiar health challenges. The state government has effectively confronted this challenge by drafting experts who are currently probing the circumstance, with a view to finding lasting solution to it.
Unlike Zamfara, Kano has special features in terms of commerce, in terms of business activities and in terms of population. People from within and outside the country troop into Kano everyday for business transactions. It will be foolhardy to compare the inflow of human traffic into Kano state with Zamfara state.
The match is not there! It is also pertinent to point out that Kano still maintain a moderate record of new cases of the virus. This is so because of the level of the impact of sensitization campaign being carried out by the state government through the Kano Task Force Committee on COVID-19 headed by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Governor Ganduje received applause from within and outside the country on how he successfully managed to stop the virus from finding its way into Kano, even when it had penetrated the neighbouring Katsina and Kaduna states. Proactive measures were adequately taken to curb the disease; and since the infiltration of the virus into Kano, the Ganduje administration has remained firm and resolute in fighting it.
Last month, Ganduje ordered the closure of all borders and entry points in the state. Schools, markets, places of worship were also shutdown. Social gathering was prohibited, while residents were properly educated on the best way to always wash their hands with soap and water, apply hand sanitizer, maintain social distancing and personal hygiene.
Currently, Kano has three modern Isolation Centres and one other facility where suspected cases are accomodated, Ganduje has concluded plans build 10 additional Isolation Centres. Also, very soon, Governor Gganduje will commission a new test centre built by Bayero University Kano, in collaboration with Kano state government, even as plans are being made to establish Sample Collection Centres across the 44 Local Government Areas in the state. Our primary healthcare system has also been re-activated to confront the challenges of COVID-19 and other health issues.
On Tuesday, the leadership of the House of Representatives paid solidarity visit to Kano, commending Governor Ganduje for the commitment and resilience he has demonstrated in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and other health challenges in the state. Local and international organizations, at different times, have also applauded Governor Ganduje’s giant stride in the health sector.
Very soon, the combined team of experts from the state Ministry of Health and the NCDC would come out with their findings on the verbal autopsy and unravel the mystery behind the mysterious deaths.
It is also good news that on Thursday, Governor Ganduje inaugurated a team of 11 health experts who have volunteered to invest their knowledge and services in helping Kano overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. They took this noble decision, having recognized the spirited efforts made by Kano state government in tackling COVID-19.
I will also wish to advise Mathias to always crosscheck facts before embarking on needless criticism of a government that take the healthcare of its citizen very seriously. It is also important to remind Mathias that it is not in his on interest to play politics with people’s health, which is a matter of life and death.
Dr. Haruna is a Kano-based medical practitioner
By Dr. Abubakar Haruna