The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Cross River State has been advised to urgently begin the process of training its members on how to guard themselves against contracting COVID-19.
There are 45 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Cross River as of July 30, the second state that is least infected by the novel virus.
Asuquo Simon, a private medical doctor in Calabar, the state capital, gave the advice to the doctors’ association in a statement he issued on Friday.
Mr Simon said the situation in Cross River requires the NMA in the state to equip doctors with the knowledge of COVID-19 protocols and management, instead of the association behaving as an opposition to the Cross River State Government.
“Cross River State started the no mask no movement, since March 2020 and is well known. It is disheartening to know that this is not adhered to by some health workers, worst still some doctors,” Mr Simon said.
“NMA, Cross River Chapter, should begin sensitisation of its members on the compulsory use of face mask at all times.”
Continuing, Mr Simon said, “From one of NMA frequent letters released to the press, it was stated that the Government of Cross River State has trained over 400 health workers on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) for COVID-19 and some of the persons trained at least 50 were doctors, including the State Chapter Chairman Dr Agam Ayuk.
“Rather than always seek who to blame or spend precious time writing long press releases, this time should have been used to cascade the IPC training down to all the members of your association so the know exactly how to protect themselves and will not have any doctors die from COVID-19 or or infected in Cross River state.
“This would not need to put any financial strain on the resources of NMA as this training can be done virtually.
“It is sad to note that some doctors in public and private hospitals do not use face mask always at their work places. Some do not know the IPC protocols, some do not have access to the SOP for management and referral of suspected cases of COVID-19. These are the types of engagement and sensitisation drive that a committed association should have if the welfare of its people are topmost on its mind.
“Don’t keep quiet, rather take the right action and end the blame game!”
Mr Simon said the NMA chairman’s allegation that “the under-reporting of COVID-19 cases in the state was responsible for doctors contracting the virus” is without proof and illogical.
“Will reporting of 1000 non-existent cases stop doctors from getting infected? Are there proofs that cases are under reported in Cross River state? If there are, present the evidence to the public for proper scrutiny and action.”
He said information on COVID-19 in the state is available on the website of Cross River State Ministry of Health for NMA and other interested persons to access.
He said the Cross River State Government is doing well in its management of the coronavirus, “even though it might not be at the speed expected.
It is necessary for NMA and other organisations to support the state government in its fight against COVID-19 in order to save lives, Mr Simon said.
“In one of Governor Ben Ayade’s speeches, he rightly stated that with the beginning of Phase 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic and the easing of lock down and opening of airspace, several cases of COVID-19 will come into the state, as such whatever numbers seen is expected.
“If we need to see more numbers then we should join the state to convince more people to go for voluntary testing.
“Presently, four flights come into Calabar daily from Lagos and Abuja which are epi-centres (of the Coronavirus in Nigeria), so you should expect cases. This is not the fault of the state government,” he said.
The doctor said the state government should not be blamed for the non-expansion of the facilities in the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) which is owned and managed by the federal government.
He called on the NMA in Cross River to join the state government in putting pressure on the federal government to expand the UCTH, especially because of COVID-19.