Don’t Be Lured Into False Sense Of Security By Mere Use Of Facemask – Cross River NMA Warns

In Breaking News, Health, International News, Reports

By Archibong Jeremiah

“The policy of the use of clothe nose mask introduced by the Cross River State Government which has now been recommended by the Federal Government is also highly commendable. However, while the use of facemask is helpful, it does not confer full protection against COVID-19 and citizens of the State should not be lured into a false sense of security by the mere use of facemask.”

The above is an extract from a position paper by the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Cross River State chapter after perusing the State preparedness against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

The State NMA’s position paper came three days after the Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ) issued a press release calling on the State Governor, Sen. Ben Ayade to review the State lockdown policies.

Yesterday, the Chancellor of Arthur Jarvis University Akpabuyo, Sir Arthur Archibong also lend his voice to those calling on the Ayade administration to rethink it’s lockdown policies.

His institution is the first to donate to the State Government to boost its strides in the battle against COVID-19 in Cross River.

See the release in full below:

NMACRS/SG/2020/04/202
15th April, 2020

NIGERIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION CROSS RIVER STATE BRANCH PRESS RELEASE ON COVID-19 RESPONSE AND THE STATE OF THE HEALTH SECTOR IN CROSS RIVER STATE.

The Nigerian Medical Association Cross River State Branch (NMA CRS) having extensively reviewed the level of preparedness and cogent steps taken to prevent and contain any outbreak of COVID-19 in Cross River State, policy statements from the State Government and recent press statements from the State Commissioner for Health have come up with the following position statements:

1) The Nigerian Medical Association Cross River State acknowledges and commends the measures so far instituted by the Cross River State Government towards securing the borders of the State to help limit the transmission and a spread of COVID-19 from neighbouring States and Cameroun.

2). The policy of the use of clothe nose mask introduced by the Cross River State Government which has now been recommended by the Federal Government is also highly commendable. However, while the use of facemask is helpful, it does not confer full protection against COVID-19 and citizens of the State should not be lured into a false sense of security by the mere use of facemask.

3) According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Interim Guidance of April 6, 2020, the use of facemasks (medical or non-medical) whether for source control (used by infected persons) or prevention of COVID-19 (used by healthy persons) alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection and advises other measures to be adopted. Therefore, face mask is complementary to social/physical distancing of at least 1 meter, avoiding mass gatherings, effective hand and respiratory hygiene and cleaning of all contact surfaces among other measures as recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and World Health Organisation.

4) The press release by Mr. Christian Ita, the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Governor with ref: GO/PRESS/012/VOL.1/179 dated April 11, 2020 directing all Civil Servants from Grade level 10 and above to resume work is ill-timed and not in the best public health interest of the State. The primordial/primary prevention strategy of the State Government is obviously the cheapest, safest and best strategy to adopt considering our peculiar challenges, but could be derailed by this mass resumption of staff that constitutes almost 50% of the workforce. We advise other means of getting critical sectors to work while avoiding mass gatherings because of the risk posed by asymptomatic carriers of the virus and without resources for mass testing of the population.

5) The Cross River State Government currently has no Isolation Centre. The 4-bed capacity Isolation Unit at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar is the Infectious Disease Ward of the Department of Microbiology, UCTH. According to the report of April 8, 2020 by the Central Working Committee of Health Professionals in Cross River State made up of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Association of Medical Laboratory Scientist of Nigeria (AMLSN) and Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), to the Commissioner for Health “UCTH Isolation Centre lacked basic facilities, equipment and accessories based on NCDC specifications. The patient capacity of UCTH Isolation Centre is grossly inadequate. Hence, we recommend that the State Government should set up a more expansive and accommodating Isolation Centre as soon as possible”.

6) The press interview granted by the State Hon. Commissioner for Health on AIT International – Kakaaki programme on April 14, 2020, during which she declared that the State Government has one hundred and five (105) Doctors in the State Civil Service is grossly misleading and a misrepresentation of a critical issue adversely affecting effective health care delivery in Cross River State. For the avoidance of doubt, we have attached the distribution of Cross River State Doctors across the various State facilities reaffirming our position of thirty three (33) doctors in the Cross River State Civil Service.

7) The number of Doctors in the State Civil Service is the least in the country. A Doctor in Cross River State Civil Service earns 46-54% of what his/her colleague earns across the country. The least paid by any State Government in the country. It is therefore difficult to engage or retain this critical workforce. We therefore call on the State Government to use this period of COVID-19 pandemic to address the human resource capacity and other deficits in the Health Sector.

8) The Association wishes to restate its commitment to providing scientific, accurate and unbiased information on the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare preparedness as well as the state of the health sector in Cross River State to the public. The Association and her members remain committed to working with the State and Federal Government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

9) We wish to reiterate the time honoured principles of prevention of COVID-19 including stay at home, if you must move, use your facemask, maintain social distance, wash your hands frequently with soap and running water for at least 20s, use alcohol based hand sanitizers and avoid gatherings as much as possible. Through our healthcare connect service, we are available at the end of the phone number 0908-159-9993 to provide essential healthcare and health information services to citizens and frontline healthcare providers. This service will be available ONLINE soonest via Telegram and WhatsApp messenger.

10) We urge all citizens to obey guidelines and policies of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, State Government and Federal Government to ensure a COVID-19 FREE Cross River State.

Thank you and God Bless Cross River State.

Signed by:

Dr. Agam E. Ayuk, State Chairman

Dr. Ezoke Epoke, State Secretary.

DISTRIBUTION OF DOCTORS IN THE CROSS RIVER STATE CIVIL SERVICE ACCORDING TO HEALTH FACILITIES

1) Eja Memorial Hospital, Itigidi, Abi LGA – 1

2) General Hospital Akamkpa, Akamkpa LGA – 1

3) General Hospital Okpoma, Yala LGA – 1

4) Lutheran Hospital and Maternity, Yahe, Yala LGA – 1

5) General Hospital Ukem, Odukpani LGA – Nil

6) Cottage Hospital Oban, Akamkpa LGA – 1

7) Cottage Hospital Akpet Central, Biase LGA – 1

8) General Hospital Ugep, Ugep, Yakuur LGA – 1

9) General Hospital Ogoja, Ogoja LGA – 2

10) General Hospital Calabar, Calabar – 7

11) Lawrence Henshaw Memorial Hospital, Calabar, Calabar South LGA – 1

12) Government Dental Centre, Calabar, Calabar Municipality – 2

13) Ranch Medical Centre Obudu, Obudu LGA – Nil

14) General Hospital Sankwala, Obanliku LGA – 1

15) St. Joseph Hospital, Ikot Ene, Akpabuyo LGA – 1

16) General Hospital Obubra, Obubra LGA – 1

17) Government House Clinic – 1

18) Eye Care Programme – 6

19) Primary Health Care – 1

20) State Ministry of Health Headquarters – 3

21) General Hospital Abuochiche, Bekwara LGA – Public-Private Partnership.

22) General Hospital Obudu – Public-Private Partnership under litigation.

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