COVID – 19: Matters arising

By Chiedu Uche Okoye

Nowadays, the mention of corona virus disease amongst people instills mortal fear into them as though one’s having the disease is akin to placing a death sentence on one. More so, here, people who are afflicted with the disease are being stigmatized. Like other pandemics, which were its forerunners, the gale of COVID- 19 has been sweeping across countries of the world killing both the poor and the rich. In Nigeria, it claimed the life of Abba kyari, the controversial and cerebral chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari. The British Prime minister, Boris John was a victim and survivor of the deadly and dreaded disease.

The disease, COVID – 19 is a zootic, febrile, and respiratory disease, which is highly infectious. One can contract it if one inhales the sputum of an infected person. People who have the disease manifests such symptoms as persistent cough, high temperature, and difficulty in breathing. The British health personnel and scientists have added loss of sense of taste and smell as another symptom of the disease. A person can die within days of his or her contracting the disease.

However a person’s contracting of the disease is not akin to placing a death sentence on the person. It has caused the deaths of thousands of people in Britain, Spain, Italy, France, Iran, Brazil, America, China, and others, however. The response of many national leaders to the disease are the lockdown of their countries, the instituting of the practice of social distancing, and the observance of sanitary health protocol. And not a few countries have shut their airspace against incoming flight while executing measures aimed at the containment of the disease.

Happily, now, countries are easing the lockdown of their countries while the people of the world are eagerly waiting for the production of vaccines and drugs for the treatment of the disease. From China to Ghana, from Australia to Britain, scientists are working their fingers to the bones to produce drugs for the treatment of the corona virus disease.

Recently, a piece of cheery new came out of Madagascar. It’s said that the country’s scientists had produced a herbal potion for the treatment of COVID – 19. The global health body, WHO, insists that the drug should be subjected to scientific tests before it would be certified fit for human consumption as cure/drug for COVID – 19 disease. But the government of Madagascar appears not to be favorably disposed to the suggestion or directive of WHO.

Back home in Nigeria, our scientists have not made significant efforts to produce COVID – 19 drugs. The fact is that our under –funded and dysfunctional universities are not research oriented. They are not citadels and bastions of scientific researches and inquiries. They are only adepts at churning out half – baked graduates who possess ill – digested theoretical knowledge.

Worst still, only a handful of states in the country have health institutions that possess the facilities and capabilities for testing people to find out their COVID – 19 status. And the decrepit and sorry state of hospitals in which COVID – 19 patients are kept is a sad reminder of government’s criminal negligence of the health sector. Again, some people who were former inmates in the COVID – 19 treatment centers complained that they were badly and shoddily treated while they’re there.

But more worrisome is the role being played by security agents who are charged with enforcing the ban on interstate travels. Police personnel deployed to man the state borders do collect money from desperate travelers to let them embark on their interstate journeys. Those corrupt security personnel who are compromised are inadvertently aiding and abetting the spread of the corona virus disease. So, they should be brought to justice.

In addition to this, the transportation of the almajiri children in trucks to the southern parts of the country when the ban on interstate travel is still in force raises suspicion about the motives of the sponsors of the travels.

Thankfully, the almajiri caste system has been abolished. The almajiri system was designed to inculcate Islamic education or knowledge into the Moslem children. But in our today’s world, the almajirI children need secular education as well in order to attain great heights in their endeavors and careers, and function well in our society.

Since the introduction and easing of the lockdown in Nigeria, schools in the country were closed as part of the measures to check the spread of the corona virus disease. The closure of schools has altered the schools’ calendars with the indefinite postponement of examinations like NECO and SSCE. Now, online or virtual learning has become a substitute for class-room teaching. But, is it an effective way of imparting knowledge to students, knowing full that students cannot ask questions about topics which are beyond their ken?

The outbreak and spread of COVID – 19 has disrupted our old ways of doing things and opened our eyes to critical national issues that need urgent government’s attention. For example, in the post – COVID – 19 period, the almajiri boys ought to be absorbed and integrated into regular schools so as to put to an end the nuisance they are constituting in our country.

Again, the incidences of corona virus disease in Nigeria have further exposed the dysfunctional state of our health – care delivery system. So, the health sector should be revamped and rehabilitated in order that it can be at the cutting edge of the health – care delivery system. Only a robust health – care system can combat the outbreak and spread of diseases.

More so, the fluctuating global oil prices are indications or proofs that we should diversify our mono-economy from crude oil.

Chiedu Uche Okoye writes from Anambra state and can be reached on 08062220654

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