The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to issue an Executive Order to enforce compliance with the stay-at-home directive for non-essential workers.
NMA President, Dr Francis Faduyile, who made the call at a news conference on Thursday in Abuja, said the call became imperative in curtailing the spread of Coronavirus in Nigeria.
“We are observing with dismay that some State Governments are vacillating on the closure of schools and banning social and religious gatherings, basking in the euphoria that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their states.
“NMA demands uniformity in implementing the lockdown orders on non-essential services. We, therefore, call on Buhari to issue an Executive Order to enforce compliance,” he said.
Mr Faduyile who appreciated efforts so far put in by government at all levels to contain the pandemic, however, said that certain key strategies had been largely absent or sub-optimally implemented.
These according to him, include effective coordination between federal and state governments as well as other stakeholders to ensure that the efforts are not wasted.
“NMA particularly observes that going by what is being put out by the media, relevant federal and states authorities are working independently thus leaving several grounds uncovered.
“The association further notes that a more result oriented situation would be one where federal and state governments are comparing notes, sharing intelligence and taking a uniform stand on issues.
“Issues such as modalities for effective implementation of interrupting the chain of transmission (social distancing), case detection, contact tracing and self- isolation.
“These lapses have resulted in the recent cases where some individuals defaulted the self-quarantine directives and went about mixing freely with the public,” he said.
Mr Faduyile called on federal government to immediately commence a strategic partnership/collaboration with states and their relevant organisations on a day to day basis.
“The weakest link in the chain, could rubbish every effort of the stronger parts.
“Working together eliminates this. This partnership and cooperation will be most needed in the area of technical support and funding,” he said.
The NMA president lamented absence of purpose-isolation centres, unlike in the past where Infectious Diseases Hospitals, existed in every state of the federation.
Mr Faduyile said to make matters worse, in most of the hospitals, there was severe inadequacy of critical care facilities like purpose-built Intensive Care Units (ICU).
“These ICUs with ventilators/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/inadequacies, NMA therefore calls for immediate commencement of supervised self-isolation in any manner that will protect public health.
“This would ensure that returnees from 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 designated officials to 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 better results,” he said.
He lauded the leadership role played by federal government so far and efforts of some state governments, especial Lagos State, in containing the looming danger.
He also lauded philanthropy of individuals like Aliko Dangote and Folorunsho Alakija, who had made substantial donations to assist the country in the fight against coronavirus, while calling on others to emulate.
Commending the sacrifice of health workers in fight against COVID-19, Mr Faduyile, urged governments at all levels to ensure availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and other incentives that could motivate health workforce to give in their best.
He called on state chapters of NMA including the FCT to mobilise volunteers to assist in the area of service delivery at health facilities, contact tracing and wholesome information/public health education campaigns in collaboration with public authorities.
Mr Faduyile urged state chairmen of NMA to compile and submit list of volunteers willing to assist in areas with high prevalence to NMA National Secretariat on or before March 27.