Controversy trailing the decision by the federal government to invite some Chinese doctors to share their experience on the management of the Coronavirus pandemic with Nigeria has refused to subside. The Nigeria Medical Association has described the invitation as an embarrassment to Nigerian doctors. The Nigerian government through the Minister for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire
Controversy trailing the decision by the federal government to invite some Chinese doctors to share their experience on the management of the Coronavirus pandemic with Nigeria has refused to subside. The Nigeria Medical Association has described the invitation as an embarrassment to Nigerian doctors.
The Nigerian government through the Minister for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire announced on Friday that an 18-member Chinese medical team including doctors, nurses and other medical advisers will arrive this week along with a plane-load of additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The Chinese deployment of medical personnel to foreign countries is part of a larger global initiative to send Chinese medical experts to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf among other regions.
In Africa, Algeria and Nigeria are some of the listed beneficiaries.The use of medical personnel is an evolution of Beijing’s relief efforts on the continent. These initially focused exclusively on the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies — including government-to-government support and philanthropic gifts like the recent PPE donation by the Jack Ma Foundation.
As at the 6th April 2020, Nigeria, has recorded 238 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 35 of the reported cases have been discharged while there have been five deaths.
The NMA has listed a plethora of reasons why it is vehemently opposed to the Chinese doctors’ invitation which it described as an embarrassment to its members and other health workers fighting COVID-19 under deplorable condition. The most annoying part of the NMA’s grouse is that it was not carried along on such a decision.
The Association noted in its statement that Doctors are profoundly dismayed to learn that the Federal Government is inviting the Chinese who from available accounts are not out of the woods themselves, said NMA.
It regretted that the government did not take into consideration the extant laws regulating the practice of medicine in Nigeria as enshrined in the Medical and Dental Council Act. It noted further that the Medical and Dental Council of Nigerian should have been consulted to grant approvals to foreigners to interact with Nigerian patients.
But the government in its explanation argued that the Chinese doctors are not going to practice in Nigeria but would only lend us their experience having gone through the worse form of experience of the pandemic. It said the Chinese personnel would help in setting up some of the molecular laboratories as well as upgrade and reconfigure existing ones for testing of the disease.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Taskforce Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, yesterday in Abuja at the sixth joint national briefing said the Chinese medical experts were only coming to share experiences and train Nigeria’s medical personnel.
“They’re not accredited and cannot practice, but only coming to share their experiences. As a matter of fact, they’re in the best position of experience, since the pandemic started from their side and they were able to contain its spread. Thus, they’re only coming to share their experiences and also train some of our medical personnel,” the SGF said.
The NMA said it is aware of a large pool of general medical and specialist practitioners who are either unemployed or underemployed. These could be engaged instead of foreigners who pose a risk to national security and may not be conversant with culture, terrain and peculiar challenges, the NMA said.
In another twist to the developing story, Speaker House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila on Monday asked the federal government to quarantine the invited 18-team of Chinese medical doctors for 14 days on their arrival. He said this in Abuja at a meeting between the leadership of the house and the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora.
Hon Gbajabiamila said: “there are a lot of complaints about why we are bringing in Chinese doctors. It is incumbent on us, as lawmakers, to intervene, following the concerns of our constituents to understand the issues and get the right information to them.
“Having listened to you, what we’re taking away from this meeting is that Nigeria needs this intervention from the Chinese, but you’ve to make it mandatory that they observe all the protocols laid down for the disease.
Meanwhile, the federal government and medical and health workers have received commendations for their management and handling of the pandemic in Nigeria such that there has not been an explosion in the number of infected cases and the rise in the number of those who have recovered from the disease.
Dr Clement Peter, the Officer-in-Charge of World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, has commended Federal Government’s efforts “to the timely response to the first case of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in the country. “It is commendable that Nigeria speedily detected the case and addressed the matter in Lagos”.
These feats are made possible despite the harsh working environment for the medical and health workers, who have no health insurance, not enough PPE, not enough facemasks and hand gloves and where a lot of them, especially those working with the state governments are being owed months of salaries.
The situation of the COVID-19 in Nigeria and its distribution in the states as obtained from the website of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is attached below.
Total Confirmed cases 238
No. of Cases Admission Discharged No of Deaths
Lagos 120 86 31 2
Abuja 48 39 0 2
Osun 20 19 1 0
Edo 11 8 0 1
Oyo 9 8 0 0
Bauchi 6 3 0 0
Akwa Ibom 5 5 0
Kaduna 5 4 0 0
Ogun 4 2 2 0
Enugu 2 2 0 0
Ekiti 2 1 1 0
Kwara 2 0 0 0
Rivers 2 2 0 0
Benue 1 1 0 0
Ondo 1 1 0 0
Total 238 186 35 5
As at April 6, 2020