No going back on inviting Chinese doctors, but they won’t have contacts with patients, says FG

Despite opposing the idea by many Nigerians, including the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the Federal Government on Monday insisted on the invitation of Chinese doctors as well as other health workers and medical equipment from China to help Nigeria fight against COVID-19.

In fact, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, described opposition as unhelpful controversy, saying that “this is a state of war against the coronavirus and time should not be devoted to unhelpful controversies.”

Speaking during the briefing by the Task Force on Monday, the SGF emphasised that all countries of the world seek for and receive help in the fight against COVID-19, adding that the support coming from China was a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative by CCECC, a company with total value of infrastructure contracts worth $10 billion in Nigeria.

The PTF chairman, however, assured that the Chinese doctors would not interface with patients or have a case management.

Rather, he explained that they would train Nigerian manpower, advise on procedures and methods, install and test the equipment donated before handling them over.

“One major support that has attracted public commentaries is the offer by CCECC, a Chinese company to import about 256 equipment and items in different quantities, notable among which are, 1,300,000 medical masks, over 150,000 pieces of assorted personal protective equipment as well as 50 medical ventilators. The company has also proposed to sponsor public health experts to help strengthen our public health capacity and advise on processes and procedures.

“However, I wish to clarify that all countries of the world seek for and receive help in the fight against COVID-19. The support coming from China is a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative by CCECC, a company with total value of infrastructure contracts worth $10 billion in Nigeria.

“The professionals that have been invited from China are public health specialists and medical engineers that will support Nigeria’s capacity in managing the pandemic on advisory basis when necessary, while drawing from the experience of the Chinese. In no way shall there be case management and interface with patients.

“They will train our manpower, advise on procedures and methods, install and test the equipment donated before handling them over.

“I therefore use this medium to appeal to our medical professionals to see the positive aspects of this gesture as an extension of development in the field of medicine. The PTF recognises and respects the competence and capability of Nigerian doctors and other medical personnel. This is a state of war against the coronavirus and time should not be devoted to unhelpful controversies.”

Also speaking, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the initiative would build the capacity of hard-working and resourceful Nigerian healthcare workers at the forefront of fighting coronavirus.

The minister stated that the team of Chinese medical experts is expected to arrive Nigeria in a few days with a consignment of globally scarce medical supplies, to augment government efforts and build capacity to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dr. Ehanire said Nigeria was already working with the African Union (AU) to develop a continental response.

He explained further that a Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 response has been developed and an African Task Force on Coronavirus (AFCOR) set up to coordinate preparedness and response efforts in the continent.

Giving the update of the cases, the minister said: “Over the weekend, we recorded 42 new cases, bringing to a total of 232 the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria. They are in 14 States and the FCT as at today, 6th April, 2020, We have recorded 5 fatalities in total, all with underlying ailments.

“A total of 33 patients have been discharged. We have 120 patients in Lagos State, 47 in FCT, Osun 20, Oyo 9, Edo 9, Bauchi 6, Akwa Ibom 5, Kaduna 5, Ogun 4, Enugu 2, Ekiti 2, while Ondo, Rivers and Benue have one each.”

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