Medical Doctors Embark on Indefinite Strike in Cross River

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Bassey Inyang in Calabar

Medical Doctors in Cross River State, under the umbrella of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), have embarked on an indefinite strike to protest the insensitivity of the state government to the fight against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic disease.

The doctors were also protesting against the alleged failure of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to reflect the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the state in its daily update.

The alleged nonchalant behaviour of the state government and the NCDC to the Covid-19 spread, according to the NMA, has endangered the lives of members of the public and put the lives of the medical doctors in the state at risk, as some of them have been infected.

The NMA in the state has also sent an official letter to the Minister of Health to intimate the federal government of its decision to down tools indefinitely.

The NMA, In the letter that was signed by the State Chairman and Secretary of NMA, Dr. Agam E. Ayuk, and Dr. Ezoke Epoke respectively, said that the association has passed a “vote of no confidence” on the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, and “referred her to the NMA National Disciplinary Committee and Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) for the unethical handling of COVID-19 testing in the state, which has put lives at risk and brought the association to disrepute.”

The letter, which was dated July 5, 2020, with reference number NMA CRS/SG/2020/07/254, read in part: “ Notice of Withdrawal of Medical Services:

“The Nigerian Medical Association Cross River State branch held an Emergency General Meeting on Sunday, July 5, 2020 to deliberate on the current issues of COVID-19 testing, surveillance, contact tracing, isolation, treatment and care in the state.

“The following observations and resolutions were made: The association deeply appreciates the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) in declaring the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital an Independent Test Centre and the eventual activation of University of Calabar Teaching Hospital Molecular Laboratory and Dr. Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital Calabar for COVID-19 PCR Testing. We sincerely thank them for this.

“The association demands explanation from NCDC, why, the five (5) COVID-19 confirmed cases from UCTH carried out at the NCDC accredited Molecular Laboratory at Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, have not reflected in the daily situation report of NCDC long after results had been transmitted to UCTH since July 1, 2020. Congress demands update of the NCDC situation report as a matter of urgent public health interest.

“Congress demands explanations from NCDC, why, epidemiology code numbers have to be generated by Cross River State Ministry of Health before results of samples sent by UCTH to an NCDC approved Molecular Laboratory can be published by NCDC, despite having approved UCTH as an independent Test Centre.

“The NCDC is put on notice that the Cross River State Government has abdicated its responsibility of contact tracing, treatment and care for the five (5) confirmed cases, which may not be unconnected with the delay in publication of the results by NCDC. Congress demands the immediate activation of Adiabo Isolation Centre and commencement of surveillance and contact tracing in the state.

“The members of the association and residents of Cross River State have been put in a precarious public health and safety situation due to the confusion and uncertainty created by the delayed updating of the results by NCDC.

“Congress demands explanation from NCDC, why, despite several complaints of compromised testing in the state, investigations have not commenced on the unethical activities carried out by Cross River State COVID-19 Task Force.”