By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
More often than not, one is best advised to take most posts on the social media with more than a pinch of salt, and a dab of cinnamon. Taking countless alarming and hysterical hypotheses, conspiracies, theories, formulas and all what not with anything short of cynicism has the obvious tendency to turn you into an emotional and psychological wreck – especially since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus disease (aka COVID-19).
Some times though, some gems peeled through the murk, and retain some level of maturity, and a hint of factuality, for you to act or, at worst, embark on further interrogation. At other times, it ends in a howler – like the “Coronavirus was man-made” bunkum allegedly floated by a distinguished Japanese scientist – and Nobelist to boot – Prof. Tasuki Hunjo. It turns out that though there exists such a man, in an arcane area of medicine, living and teaching in Japan, he never made that viral and paradigm-shifting declaration! It is bewildering that a faux statement could be dredged out by an obviously well-grounded and intelligent individual, without scruples about the propensity to detract and delude millions around the world into hate-fueled aggression transfered towards nationals of “implicated” countries. That is one extreme.
Another is a long piece attributed to one Dr. Abdullahi Mohammed with a searingly incisive appraisal of the fumblings and headless-chicken-like perambulations of both the Kano State government’s approach to combating the pandemic, and the opaque round-about command structure of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
This is a post you hope is not real, and at once pray that it is correct, such that in exposing the fool-hardiness of our administrators, it will also create an opportunity to reverse and review silly unprofitable procedures and irresponsible attitudes. In other words, if Mohammed’s diatribe is genuine, a window is thrown open to ameliorate the unfortunate missteps of the past months, and to quickly invest smart inputs that can deactivate the waiting catastrophe.
However, if it is proven that it was not penned by the good doctor (we suspect it’s a num de plum), but most of the information therein were correct, unlike the Hunjo hoax, then we have an unknown Patriot to thank for unearthing what is nothing short of monumental mismanagement and criminal lack of organisational intelligence in state and national response to emergencies.
There is a Dr. Abdullahi Mohammed listed on the worldwide medical biometric portal of medpages.info as an endocrinologist in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, an adjunct of Bayero University, Kano. Medpages is described as “the definitive source of health care provider contact information in Africa”, with a database which “contains 429,229 actively managed healthcare provider records”.
Apart from being viral on social media in the past few days, a couple of blogs have carried the article, “Fight Against Covid-19 In Nigeria: Matters Arising”, without any backlash disclaimer… yet.
We, here, will therefore hazard an attempt to invest the article with enough seriousness by interrogating its pronouncements and condemnations, hoping that if these allegations were true, then appropriate actions should be taken, missteps corrected and issues contextualized promptly, to avoid certain catastrophic consequences. Copious relevant excerpts from the articles are necessary for elucidation and immediate response, while we make brisk commentaries as accompliments.
“First and foremost, I faulted the composition of the committee ab initio and I am now (being) increasingly vindicated. The committee has majority politicians and public servants. The two medical personnel in the committee aside from the Health Minister are Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who is the Head of NCDC and Dr. Sani Aliyu.
Dr. Chikwe is a public health expert and Epidemiologist while Dr. Sani Aliyu is a Microbiologist. I have no problems with both (being) members of the committee as they are both needed and ably qualified. But curiously and dangerously, no representatives of the umbrella bodies of Nigerian medical professionals like NMA, MDCAN, NARD and JOHESU. The implications of this is that the necessary clinical content of the operational template of the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria wasn’t captured by both the federal and state Covid-19 committeees.”
(True. Apart from the three men mentioned of the 13-member Committee, the fourth, a non-Nigerian, is the WHO country representative, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu. Realising the unwise shallowness of its composition, the FGN should have reached out to the grand old eggheads of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences, if wary of the combative and sometimes disruptive tendencies of the above-mentioned medical “activists”).
“The NCDC’s jobs ends with testing and movement of positive cases to the isolation centres. What happens next is by the medics in the frontline (who) are not sufficiently carried along in design and operations. And no funds or provisions made for the federal health institutions, for instance, to embark on local re-adjustments that would help in combating COVID-19 plague.
Critically, the melting point of public health services and the clinical management of the suspected Covid-19 patients is the provision for HOLDING AREAS in all the federal health institutions as well as all the states health facilities. Holding areas in hospitals would have allowed for holding suspected cases presenting to hospitals safely in designated holding areas/wards, away from regular patients, to allow for their management in safe clinical situations pending the availability of their coronavirus test results. So that positive cases will then be moved to isolation centres while the negative cases will be returned to regular wards. This will substantially save everybody including the highly exposed health personnel.”
(If this statement represents the real situation in any form or shape, that should be classified as irresponsible, negligent and downright unintelligent. It makes sense for all healthcare centres to be mobilised and restructured to receive all patients to a sieving unit [holding areas] and thereafter be tested [not the superficial temperature gun] to know their covid status, and thus decide who goes to the isolation centres, and who is referred to the regular out-patient process. It is just commonsensical, isn’t it?)
“Based on the aforementioned, this is the aspect that is responsible for the entire failure of (Kano State Government) approach in handling the coronavirus pandemic.
Majority of private hospitals in Kano have strategically shut down. Most public hospitals that were not strategically positioned to fight coronavirus have also tactically stopped receiving patients. The only option available to them is to direct patients to AKTH (Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital), which is also not strategically positioned to handle the challenges in terms of organizational rearrangement,
facilities and manpower to handle the situation. It is interesting to note that AKTH for instance wasn’t positioned in the template of both Federal and KNSG to handle COVID-19 cases. So no holding area provided and now AKTH ran into troubles with handling the large number of patients (being) pushed to them of which majority have classical Covid-19 signs and symptoms mixed with patients with other serious illnesses.”
(Is this true? Was the Ganduje government aware of this clinical anomaly, and yet was crying all over the place about Federal negligence?)
“Again, the PTF COVID-19 committee failed to get inputs from the experts in the field to design our national template. They also failed to input our local peculiarities in their template that will factor in our ailing health institutions and systems and most importantly the KAP (Knowledge, Attitude and Practices) of our people. For instance, if you are designing a template for a relatively naive Northern Nigeria, you must factor in religion and harmful cultural practices and unnecessary dangerous disbelief in western interpretations of situations like this.”
(Excellently well put – the sad note that this scenario was ever allowed to fester is a massive thumps down for our public healthcare architects).