By Patrick Obia
The Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, has rejected the 15-man Chinese medical experts who are the country to help curtail the coronavirus pandemic saying a lot is shrouded in secrecy.
The Association National President, Dr. Francis Faduyile said this on Hit 95.9FM Calabar “Breakfast Show”, he expressed fear that the Federal Government is not telling Nigerians a lot of things.
According to him, “We believe that there is nothing that will necessitate having the Chinese people to come to Nigeria especially this day that there have been restrictions to travelling via flight and everybody is guiding his own area. The Government told us that CCECEC said they want to give some medical equipments and consumables to donate to Nigerians, which was quite gratifying. However, we were at lost when they started saying that they are bringing their personnel. Initially the Federal Government told us that the personnel were going to install some of these equipments but we are at lost again that the ventilators were not going to be installed.
“The one that beat our imagination was when the Managing Director of CCECC came out and stated that they may treat some of their staff and it was becoming alarming. I think sincerely the Federal Government need to tell us the reason they allowed these Chinese to come to Nigeria. Since COVID-19 came into Nigeria we have being doing very well, even the United Nations have commended Nigeria that we have taken care of COVID-19. So it really disturbing and a lot of health workers are at a lost.
“It is not correct that it is the Chinese Government that have given us these workers. It is the business company that has gone to pick these 15 people to Nigeria; the process of picking them is not known, their names are not known to us, their qualifications are not known to us; there are lot of things shrouded in secrecy about them; what do they have, what are they doing, what are they supposed to do. Sometimes they said they are technicians, the other time they said they are Neurologists and the other time you said they are researchers, their identities are not known.
“That is the dilemma we are facing and it is unfortunate the situation occurring in this 21’st century, it is never done, it is against the ethics of the profession, it is against the law of the land that nobody can bring his own medical person to come and treat in another country; it is totally disbasing and it unfortunate that Nigeria is getting itself in this painful situation.”
Echoing the National body’s President, Cross River State NMA Chairman, Dr. Agam Ayuk, said they are taken by surprise and aback by the gesture of the Federal Government to okay the Chinese experts to come in at this point in time adding that, NMA has not gotten to that stage they need experts from China.
He averred that, volunteers who indicated interest have not been utilized. He further lamented the ill treatment health workers are receiving in the country disclosing that, the hazards allowances (5,000 Naira) health workers are entitled to is yet to be paid, describing the whole scene as “political.”
In the same vein, Dr. Ayuk called on Cross River State Government to do more and add more health workers especially at this point in time.
Recall that the NMA, in a statement, Thursday night signed by its National President, Dr. Francis Faduyile and Secretary-General, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote, respectively, called on the Federal Government to publish the names, designations, and qualifications of the medical experts from China and subject them to thorough medical screening.
The statement read in full:
“The Nigerian Medical Association in furtherance of her responsibility to the Nigerian people wishes to reiterate her earlier stance on the rejection of the visiting Chinese “Medical Experts” at this time even as the Federal Government has rebuffed all entreaties. We wish to clarify our informed resistance to the visit by this team from China.
“We are not against the receipt of donor support and equipment. We rather are against pulling the wool over our eyes going by the recent statement issued by the Managing Director of the Chinese donor firm operating in Nigeria that the medical personnel will be treating Chinese workers in their facilities.
“We are taken aback at this statement as this is at variance with the information supplied by the Honourable Minister of Health. We wish also to ask when medical expatriates started coming to sovereign States to treat her nationals? What happens to the Nigerians working in those facilities?
“We are aware that the Chinese team will provide CCECC employees with critical and necessary healthcare assistance as stated by the Managing Director of CCECC. It does not seem likely that the team will NOT have contact with Nigerian patients as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) would want to have us believe. CCECC has Nigerian workers among her employees.
“We call on all healthcare professionals to be wary of uncertified Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from China.
“We demand a thorough screening of the so-called medical team of experts by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) and other relevant regulatory bodies to verify their status, as we call on the Federal Government to publish the names, designations/status, and qualifications of the so-called Medical experts.
“We note that the consistent and progressive neglect of the health sector and healthcare workers have left the industry debilitated, leading to the mass exodus of healthcare workers for greener pastures. Those left behind are working magic with bare hands. We therefore believe this is the time to look inwards and deploy mobilized resources to strengthen our systems.
“The NMA in recent times has been at the vanguard calling on the Government to revive the health sector and trigger brain gain. The Government has continued to shift the post in explanation regarding this Chinese invitation. First, it was that these were mere donations, then to experts rendering assistance to set up test laboratories and now to the experts treating patients. No country allows foreigners to jump on their patients and manage without regulation.
“We are aware of the stride with Nigeria mantra of the CCECC and their willingness to participate in the construction of two isolation centres in Abuja. This gesture is no different from that of Corporate Nigeria so far, including the world-class isolation centre constructed and donated by Guaranty Trust Bank to the Lagos State Government without the help of Chinese experts. Unless there is something else we don’t know.
“We wish to respectfully request the Presidential Task Force to deal with the genuine concerns of her people including all the professional bodies that have spoken out against this curious decision to engage the Chinese at all cost. A recipient of donations is still at liberty to pick and choose.
“We will continue to monitor this uncomfortable relationship with the so-called Chinese personnel. We shall not hesitate to do whatever is necessary to protect our long-suffering fellow citizens against any form of medical exploitation. We reaffirm our belief in the ability of the Nigerian healthcare professionals especially those at the frontlines to continue to do their best for our country as we continue to reject this ‘Greek Gift’ from CCECC at this time.
“The NMA membership despite the provocation by the Government will not abandon our countrymen at this hour of need. We, however, call on all men and women of goodwill to mount pressure on the Government to provide adequate PPE to the frontline healthcare workers and not share it among the political class who are not facing similar risk like the frontline workers.
“The NMA as an umbrella body of medical and dental practitioners, and in accordance with the physicians pledge dissociates herself from the purported consultations with any politician/group of politicians on any position we take on the Covid-19 pandemic. We are minded by altruistic intentions for the good of our country.
“We advise our members to be on alert for further directives as events unfolds.”
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