DOCTORS bodies the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have expressed opposition to plans to get a team of Chinese medical experts to visit the country.
China is sending an 18-man team of medical experts to Nigeria over the next few days to assist the health authorities with their fight against the coronavirus pandemic as fears grow that the virus may spread further over the coming weeks. Over the last few days, the number of people affected by the virus has passed the 1m figure, leading to over 60,000 deaths in 205 countries.
Some experts believe that things may get worse before they get any better, however, and it is feared that Nigeria could become one of the badly affected countries over the coming months. Despite China being the origin of the virus, it has managed to curtail the rate of infection and now has fewer cases than nations like the US, Italy, Spain, Germany and France.
In a bid to assist other nations and share their experience, a team of Chinese doctors, nurses and medical experts are expected to arrive in Nigeria. However, the NMA and NARD have rejected the plans, describing it as an embarrassment to their members and health workers in the country.
NMA president Dr Francis Faduyile, said: “It is a thing of embarrassment to the membership of the association and other health workers who are giving their best in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic under deplorable working conditions, and a fragile health system to be subjected to the ignominy of not being carried along in arriving at such a decision. It is a great disservice to the morale of the long-suffering frontline health workforce if the government goes ahead to invite these Chinese doctors.
“The invitation demeans their sacrifices so far in this pandemic. We are therefore profoundly dismayed to learn that the federal government is instead inviting the Chinese who are not out of the woods themselves.
“The spike in cases and the death toll from Covid-19 in Italy coincided with the arrival of the Chinese in the guise of offering assistance. Even the United Nations has only just recently commended the efforts of Nigeria so far.
“This is one such circumstance where the Medical and Dental Council of Nigerian should be consulted to grant necessary approvals to foreigners to interact with Nigerian patients. We expect the government to show appreciation by channelling the available resources and donations to improving testing facilities to detect more cases and ramp up capacity to train more workers.”
He added that the NMA was aware of a large pool of general medical and specialist practitioners who were either unemployed or underemployed that could be engaged, instead of bringing foreigners who, aside from national security concerns, might not be conversant with Nigeria’s culture, terrain and peculiar challenges. According to Dr Faduyile, the NMA believes that this invitation is ill-timed and of no overbearing significance considering that whatever experiences the Chinese have can be shared by digital technology through conferencing.
“We are not averse to the donation of equipment and supplies because we can always do with such support as even the developed countries receive support. However, we find it rather curious that our government would contemplate to throw open her international borders to Chinese nationals having watched how similar action in Italy proved socio-economically suicidal,” he said.
NARD president Sokomba Aliyu, added: “The crafty Chinese scientists should be the last group of friends to trust at this time, given how unreliably and covertly they have managed the information around the pandemic beginning from the data around its origin, characteristics, and other virulence features to help the nations yet to experience the surge to be better prepared. We should not lose sight of the fact that conspiracy theories have it that Covid-19 is a possible tool for both socio-political and economic manipulation and domination.
“Nigeria is too important on the African continent to act any carelessly in the face of this emerging but portent threat to human existence. The attempt to import human resources for health purposes from China into Nigeria where many qualified medical doctors and other cadres of health workers are yet to be gainfully employed is the height of insensitivity and disservice on the part of the federal government and their advisers.
“The challenge at hand would have been sufficient marker to agitate the federal government in the direction and timing for massive employment of medical and other health care workers to provide enough hands in the industry to battle the Covid-19 as other nations are doing. Some countries even went ahead to accelerate the graduation of their final year medical students, they did not turn to China.”