Cross River State Health Commissioner, Dr Betta Edu has described the strike action by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) as ill-advised and premised on wrong reasons.
Dr Edu, who spoke Monday during a live breakfast show on a national television insisted that the reason given by the striking doctors had nothing to do with the state.
She also scoffed at claims that the state has not managed the coronavirus pandemic well, insisting that the state has been above board and even at the forefront of managing the pandemic in the country.
According to her, “Cross River State started as early as January 7, 2020 by sensitizing her people, setting up the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) with the NMA playing a part in it. Military and paramilitary personnel were also involved with screening at border posts. We embarked on the no mask no movement policy, distributed PPEs and so on and so forth.
“For testing, Cross River is attached to Irua in Edo State . It requires a whole day’s travel and most times even when you get there they will complain of lack of regents in the laboratory. It made the process cumbersome to get results ready even within 48hrs amidst the numerous expenses while we kept calling on NCDC to come setup our own laboratory.”
She said even when “sample collection and contact tracing was ongoing, the NMA was still casting doubts, including on even results declared by NCDC. Suddenly every illness in the state was being attributed to COVID19 by the NMA, thus allowing people to die unnecessarily”.
” I am an eye witness to most cases. As such, as a State we decided that every case be treated as COVID19 until the results prove otherwise and all cost be put on the Cross River State Government. Even when NCDC gave us very few sample collection kits we had to go for alternative plans using other means of testing.”
Describing the strike as a very sad development, she said the decision to go on strike by the NMA has put “millions of lives of Cross Riverians at risk all because NCDC did not upload results. First and foremost, neither the Cross River State Government not the state Ministry of Health was informed about any five positive cases by the UCTH. NCDC said they are an independent center and they went ahead to do their job. We as State, we don’t have powers to decide what happens in NCDC or Ebonyi State testing center.
The Commissioner further said whoever takes or sends samples must follow the written public health procedures that should take place for a sample to be verified and moved from one place to another for transparency. Such procedures include being able to at least identify who the patient is; do history taking and write in the case finding form and if the person meets the NCDC case definition criteria, then you take samples and ID number, etc before sending the samples in a perfect situation to the laboratory where you can trust the integrity of that sample. Sample is tested and results brought back and then uploaded. This are the acceptable standard all over the World which NMA CRS refused to go through and yet declared strike actionsall because NCDC didn’t announce their 5 claimed cases.
She disclosed that the state has “requested for the details of the 5 cases and as soon as that is done we will respond effectively as it is not rocket science for us to know these people.
“So you go on strike because NCDC refused to upload results? This is killing the same people NMA swore to protect. This is bad.”