Health Experts Express Worry As Nigeria Tests Only 5,000 Citizen

Health Experts Express Worry As Nigeria Tests Only 5,000 Citizen

The professional bodies of health experts have expressed worry over the relatively low numbers of coronavirus testing in Nigeria and has called on the authorities to step up their testing capacity to successfully battle the spread of COVID-19.

A shocking statistics obtained from Here on Sunday showed that Nigeria had tested only 5,000 persons, while Ghana with a much smaller national population had tested as much as 37,954 persons and the number of persons tested so far in South Africa was 80,085.

This has led to a loud outcry from the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) and the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), who in lamentation, declared that it was not enough for the federal and state governments to impose lockdown on citizens without ensuring that persons who had contact with those infected with the coronavirus were accurately traced and tested.

President Muhammadu Buhari had, on March 29, ordered A lockdown of the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states had been ordered by the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari to enable health authorities trace and treat people that had contracted the deadly coronavirus.

Some governors, such as, those of Katsina, Kwara, Osun and Rivers states also ordered a lockdown of their states, including closing the entry and exit points of their state boundaries.

Even the World Health Organisation (WHO), whose head is faced with mounting calls for his resignation following his poor handling of the crisis and information about the outbreak in Wuhan, China, had, last week said there was an urgent need to increase COVID-19 testing in Africa. It further advised that testing must go beyond cities.

When COVID-19 was first detected in Nigeria on Thursday, February 27, the coronavirus testing centres were just five. But the centres were increased to ten by the next day.

Cases more than what govt recorded – Nurses

Commenting on Nigeria’s testing capacity, the President of the NANNM, AbdulRauf Adeniji, in an interview with The PUNCH, said COVID-19 had brought to the fore problems in the country’s health sector.

He stated, “The truth is that we are not well-equipped for the virus. Before COVID-19 came to Nigeria, the minister (of health) said we were equipped, but it is clear that our infrastructure cannot handle the testing capacity.

“People can have the virus and will not know it and still mingle with health officials and even their families thereby spreading it. We are playing with the tail of a rattle snake in this country.

“What I am saying is that the number of people, who have coronavirus in Nigeria, is more than the number recorded by government.

“The PTF (the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19) should be able to advise government properly on what should be done. The case definition is a problem. People may have it without all the conditions (high temperature, coughing and sneezing) stated. Despite lockdown, we still see people walking around.

People may have COVID-19 and seek herbal treatment – NANNM

“All federal teaching institutions must be able to, by now, test people for it. At least, in each senatorial district, there should be a testing centre.

“People may have it and seek herbal treatment while disobeying social distancing order. The commitment of our health workers is still the grace we have in Nigeria.”

There is under-testing, lockdown not effective – Resident doctors

On his part, the President of the Association of Resident Doctors, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Dr Abbah Ugwu, said the government was not doing enough.

He stated, “We have limited cases because our testing capacity is not enough. We have not tested enough people as in other countries. Government is chasing thousands of people who have had contact with established cases, but I cannot say that the number we have is a true picture of the existence of the virus in Nigeria because we are not testing enough.

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