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The Pandemic Under The Shadow Of 2023

Eze Jude Ogechukwu

Eze Jude Ogechukwu

While it seems no news is attractive presently, unless it was set around 2023 general election, it is important we place a limit to distractions from the hubristic hullabaloos of political maniacs whose shenanigans diverts our minds from other core concerns of life such as health and ethics of existential experience. Yes! Inasmuch as politics remains one of the fundamental institutions of man in his social environment, it has been abused in this age as an attention-diversion machinery.

Every other non-politics matters of global importance takes a reserve bench once political season arrives. For instance, no health challenge has caught more media attention in modern times than Covid-19. Since it hit man’s habitat in the dusking days of 2019, it has dominated newlines with no predictable date of amelioration. It assumed all priority attentions till US presidential election season arrived; and the narrative shifted to Republican/Democratic parties tussle.

The same graphic curve is being plotted in our clime. As we arrived the penultimate year to 2023 election, all campaigns against the ubiquitous virulence of the dreaded pathogen is being displaced by hysterical frenzy of general election. Solidarity rallies are organized with little or no reference to the “China virus” (in President Trump’s voice).

Pre-election year has also become, in itself, a cover, under which several societal ills go unnoticed.

While everyone look forward to the crescendo of APC national convention that has thrown enough gibberish in the atmosphere, and the theatre of comedy that PDP’s opposition struggle is becoming, vices are being perpetrated across boards in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government. It was a time like this, in the build up to 2019 election, that funds meant for the execution of war against insurgency were diverted undetected, till early last year, when National security adviser (NSA), General Monguno (Rtd) disclosed it.

Most security votes and federal allocations dispensed to states coupled with their intermally generated revenues ghots off public notice and are misappropriated by some incumbent governors. And that’s what births empty treasury which is the notorious souvenir they gifts their respective successors.

With her new ‘fame’ as one of the most corrupt countries of the world by the current reckoning of Transparency International, Nigeria can afford to allow politicking blur her view of ethics of public service, but certainly not the sinister ongoings in her health care. But sadly enough, that is what obtains.

The morning papers of last Monday carried one of the most disreputing headlines that spell doom to lives and can deplete our sovereign honour before the international community. The Punch newspaper presented it this way: “42 Labs failed to test Covid-19 samples, send results– NCDC.”

https://punchng.com/42-labs-failed-to-test-covid-19-samples-send-results-ncdc/

In the latest epidemiological report published by the centre, the centre listed 42 government-owned testing laboratories who failed to test samples by passengers and send reports.

The centres are the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano; Osun state University Teaching Hospital; Olabisi Onabanjo Teaching Hospital; SSH (Kogi); PLASVREC (Plateau), Bayero University Kano; ZANKLI GX Lab, (Nasarawa); Yobe State Specialist Hospital, Yobe; University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Cross River; University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital; Taraba State Specialist Hospital; University College Hospital, Oyo; USUMH (Borno); Federal Medical Centre, Katsina; and GH Kagarko (Kaduna).

Others include FMC (Owerri); DLHMH (Cross River); FMCG (Zamfara); Sobi IDH (Kwara); NASIDARC (Nasarawa); YDMH Genexpert (Kaduna); GH Takum (Taraba); Mobile Truck GX (Kaduna); GH Saminaka (Kaduna); O2 (Lagos); FMC Bida (Niger); NVRI (Plateau); ABU, (Kaduna); JUTH (Plateau); YDMSH, (Kaduna); FMC Birnin Kebbi, (Kebbi);UNTH (Enugu);MOGID, (Bauchi); BML (Bayelsa); GH Ikara (Kaduna); Warri Lab (Delta); Delta Mobile Lab (Delta);GAGH (Kaduna);FMC Makurdi (Benue);FMCJ (Taraba);BDTH (Kaduna); and SEZTBRL Amachara (Abia).

Such tragedy slipped off the media space and under the carpet in honour of 2023. But for those who still held on to the silken cord of patriotism, this news points to a disaster with far-reaching consequences and shouldn’t be swept underground. It implicates the insincerity of government in the fight against the cryptic virus particle.

Regular followers of this space will recall our submission recently on “Rebranded quackery” published in two separate parts 1&2.

https://www.blueprint.ng/rebranded-quackery-in-nigerias-health-care-practice-i/ and  https://www.thenews-chronicle.com/rebranded-quackery-and-extra-professional-infiltration-in-nigerias-healthcare-practice-ii/?amp=1   where we observed that quackery is defined more prominently by issuing out Lab test results obtained through a compromised process, such result hardly represents the true state of the patient’s health.

Three months ago, the International Journal Of Biomedical Laboratory Sciences (IJBLS) reported: “Nigeria’s health care system is very poor, with each of the component discipline/unit operating below standard in line with international best practices. For instance, while other African countries like South Africa have more than three hundred ISO-accredited laboratories and hospitals, Nigeria is struggling with barely six of such Lab with meagre two hospitals in that rank. This means that health care service delivery in Nigeria is substandard. There is also a very disproportionate Patient/Healthcare personnel ratio. And that entails why medical tourism is a trending phenomenon among the elites and government officials.”

On challenges facing health care delivery system in Nigeria, the journal made a case that: “there are myriad of challenges facing health care system in Nigeria. These ranges from poor infrastructures to poor personnel training and development. Government has over the years neglected the system and it has continued in rot  This accounts for increased mortality rate; with its attendant shortened life expectancy rate.

“Prior to the year 2000, life expectancy of Nigerians were 80 (±5) years for females and 70 (±5) years for males. But today we sorely face the decline of these indices to 50 (±5) for both genders.

Worse still, the United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) released a heart rending figure on Nigeria’s life expectancy in 2019. It placed Nigeria as a country with the world’s third lowest life expectancy rate of 55 years. This means Nigeria is only better than people in Sierra Leone, Chad and the Central African Republic. All these indices explain the sorry state of Nigeria’s health sector.”

Appraising that submission, it would look as if the Journal was demarketing our country. But just three months after the publication, this scandal occurred with impunity such that as you read this, no eyebrow has been raised in any quarter. Beyond the reportage, NCDC has done nothing to redress it. Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) has maintained a sealed lips.

In case you are in doubt about the danger that such ethical infamy spells, note that for any compromise in the process of disease control, their are countless ripple effects in the whole system. It triggers chains of anomalies that render the final results unreliable. For these reputable tertiary hospitals to release a result of tests not done means the periodic epidemiological data released by NCDC on Covid is inaccurate. And if such records from the largest black nation in the world is erroneous, then WHO should be worried.

On another thought, only God knows how many other diagnostic tests results from our public and/or private hospitals have been forged and released to the owners with its attendant fatal consequences.

 

May daylight spare us!

 

✍Jude Eze.

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