Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Senator representing Enugu North in the National Assembly, Chukwuka Utazi has called for home grown solutions towards checkmating the spread and finding a possible cure for the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
Utazi who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Primary Healthcare and Communicable diseases said Nigeria has the enormous human resources and expertise to rise to the occasion recalling that the country provided such leadership among African countries during the Ebola crisis.
The Senator noted that Nigeria’s national pride as the leader of the black world is at stake now and for that reason, cannot afford the embarrassment of self down grade by not proving its worth as a country with health professionals and scientists that can be reckoned with.
“We cannot afford to continue to be spoon-fed by other health professionals from other countries. We must begin to make our mistakes and learn there- from. What is the essence of research grants in Universities and in Teaching Hospitals? If there are no research grants and or adequate provision for such, now is the time to raise the issue and get it trashed out with a view to moving forward.” He said.
Utazi said Nigerians, led by the Federal Ministry of Health must tap into its reservoir of retired and serving health professionals, both at home and in Diaspora to look inwards, and perhaps, find a made in Nigeria solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, and any other disease outbreak that may occur in future noting that a journey of one million miles, starts with a single step of faith.
“With a population of almost 200 million people, it will be inconceivable that we cannot find in Nigeria committed and world class health professionals and scientists that can rub shoulders with their counterparts’ world over, and can research and come up with credible scientific discovery and answer to the question of COVID-19 pandemic.
“All that is needed is leadership by Federal Ministry of Health to seek out these Health professionals and scientists wherever they may be, incentivize them by providing them with world class medical infrastructure that money can buy and provide enabling environment for them to thrive.”
To make it work, he said the Nigerian factor that doesn’t recognize competence but federal character must be eschewed and never allowed in the Teaching Hospitals that would be chosen as centres of excellence for the exercise. The reason for this he said is because whenever the privileged elites travel to any part of the world for medical check-ups, no one looks for Doctors from their ethnic or religious groupings, but for competent medical practitioners.
“With the above suggestions in view, I think it is high time we brace up with the challenge of the new world order, and take our rightful place in the comity of nations that are localizing solutions of their health challenges, instead of waiting for succour (if at all it may come), which may be late in coming, alongside with disastrous consequences for our citizens
“Doing so leaves a country at the mercy of other countries, as we are seeing presently in containing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. Non availability of test kits and reagents are major problems facing the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, not to talk of PPE apparels for the medical personnel that are in the frontline of the fight against Coronavirus infection. Local manufacture and supplies of these basic materials are condition precedent for effective response by our health institutions in emergencies. When emergencies happen, as they are bound to, it doesn’t give room for excuses” he concluded.