By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
The North West Caucus of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), on Friday hailed the contributions of doctors and other health workers in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, but expressed worry that the zone is becoming the next epicenter of the virus.
A statement signed by Dr Ibrahim Abubakar Umar and Dr Emmanuel Joseph, Secretary and Vice Chairman respectively, and issued to newsmen in Kaduna, appreciated the sacrifices being made by doctors in Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Jigawa and Sokoto States where the virus had been confirmed.
The association commended other healthcare workers, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Government and Nigerians for the efforts to combat the pandemic.
“As at April 20, 2020, the NCDC has conducted over seven thousand tests in Nigeria, and our region has 83 confirmed cases out of 665 nationwide.“This accounts for 12.5 per cent of national burden of COVID-19 cases,” it said.It noted that although the cases were lower than other regions, with two out of 22 deaths in the country, “it was alarming that these numbers were on the upward trajectory daily, with the northwest region fast becoming the neo-epicentre in the country.
“There has been an influx of persons from other affected parts of the country despite the lockdown measures by government to contain the disease spread.”The resident doctors also expressed concern that there were clear indications of community spread of the virus, as most of the cases in the zone had no prior travel history.
“Worsening the situation is the continuous inadequate provision of necessary Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) by various hospital managements.“With reports that some hospitals do not readily make these available; others claimed unavailability due to lack of funding by the government to the teaching hospitals in the fight against this scourge.”
It said that the situation would threaten the wellbeing of its members who were on the frontline of attending to patients.
“We commend and appreciate the giant strides of one of our own, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, President of NARD for leading the fight in ensuring provision of PPE, life insurance for healthcare workers and review of our hazard allowance.“More importantly we appreciate the efforts of our leaders in various local chapters in ensuring the safety of our members and adequate supply of needed PPE during this trying period.”
It stressed that the safety and wellbeing of heath personnel must be taken seriously by government, if the country was to win the war against CoronaVirus.
“The caucus is hopeful that the various efforts being made by NMA and NARD in ensuring the fulfillment of plans by governments to provide adequate PPE, increase testing capacity in the region, enhance contact tracing of confirmed cases, community testing and treatment is fulfilled in the shortest possible time.
“In the same breath, we emphasise the need to immediately implement the ECA and MoU jointly signed by representatives of the Federal Government and Leaders of NMA, PSN, NANNM, JOHESU for all other healthcare workers in the face of various infectious diseases like COVID-19, Lassa Fever etc.
“And we must be reminded that Lassa fever has killed more people in 2020 than COVID-19, hence emphasising the sacrifice our members have to make daily to keep Nigeria safe,” it further said.
The association pledged to monitor events as they unfolded and take appropriate necessary action.
“We want to reassure our members of our unflinching commitment to their welfare, especially during this turbulent period and we appeal for calm even in the presence of numerous provocations.
“We also implore our members to observe current updated guidelines of the NCDC on safety and precautions in the discharge of our duties,” it added.