FG, States not prepared COVID-19 pandemic- Prof Katchy

Despite all efforts by governments at various levels towards handling the coronavirus pandemic, a Professor of Alternative Medicine, Peter Katchy believes little result has been achieved because the Nigerian government was not prepared for the emergency. 

Katchy was speaking with TNC correspondent in Awka, on the development and efforts by the government to curtail the spread of the virus. 

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has continued to rise across the country with the death toll presently at 150 in less than two months. 

This is coming against the backdrop of a series of lockdown directives by both the Federal and State Government as well as the closure of the borders. 

Professor Katchy believes the only way the nation would have overcome the pandemic as if the country had prepared for the emergency. 

According to him, this would include making the necessary budgetary provisions and establishing institutions that will make response activities seamless. 

“For disaster to be managed properly, you must plan and prepare for disaster. Developed countries with well-organized systems are battling the COVID-19 pandemic with serious difficulties, talk more of a country like ours where everything is addressed through a fire brigade approach. With this approach, little or nothing can be achieved and the signs are there,” Katchy said. 

He noted that combating the pandemic would have been achievable if only the government had set its health priorities right. 

The Professor of Alternative Medicine faulted what he called ‘the lopsided distribution of palliatives and COVID-19 funds’, emphasizing that with how porous the state borders are, no state can be exempted as a non-COVID-19 state. 

In his words, “The Presidential Think-Tank on this COVID-19 must review the format it is using to distribute palliatives and funds to states in support of the war against the virus. A situation where some states get a very large chunk of the funds and others are left to manage the little remaining is unfair. This is because the borders of these states are porous. Even when the lockdown was initiated, there were still interstate travels exposing all the states to the same threat. I think the Federal Government should distribute the funds evenly to the states because no state can be tagged a COVID-19 state as it were.” 

The Professor further said there is an urgent need for the Federal government to establish Ministries of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in all 36 states of the federation and the FCT. 

This he noted, is to help properly plan and coordinate timely response activities to disasters and emergencies ahead of time. 

“Sequel to a careful analysis of the excruciating hardship meted out on the entire Nigerian populace by the pandemic, it has become imperative for the Federal Government as a matter of proper network coordination, establish State Ministries of Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development in the 36 states of Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. 

“This very important Ministry should be properly funded with adequate budgetary provisions directly from the Federal Government. This would encourage rapid response to all disaster management activities and alleviate the hardship of the most vulnerable and provision of substantial palliatives at any occurrence,” he said. 

Prof Katchy who is also the Anambra State Chairman, Nigerian Red Cross Society, also urged governments at all levels and the organized private sector, to commence plans for rapid rehabilitation and revitalization of all sectors of the economy immediately the pandemic abates. 

According to him, “ at the end of every crisis, is the time to rise from the ruins and chart a progressive path forward and this should be done across all sectors, by the government with the collaboration of the organised private sector.

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