COVID-19: The Need For More Testing Centres, By Rasheed Shuaib

Policy makers need to strengthen and revitalize Primary Health Centre in Nigeria. In 1960, there was no strong focus on health system development. Policy makers and political actors made efforts to establish and expand healthcare infrastructure with more emphasis placed on curative medicine. From 1975 to 1980 health system development was initiated with Primary Health Centre as the cornerstone. The National Basic Health Service Scheme (NBHSS) was developed base on a Primary Health Centre approach. Unfortunately the National Basic Health Service Scheme (NBHSS) program could not achieve the goals due to implementation challenges. Hence Primary Health Centre Services were not delivered across Nigeria.

As this as further reveal the failure of our health system in the country following the first case of the Corona virus (Covid-19) on 27th February 2020. It as shown that the huge amount of money budgeted into the health system since the inception of the current democracy in 1999 till date is in shamble and underperforming where only about little percentage of the allocation on healthcare is utilized.

We are now in big dilemma if necessary steps are not being taken urgently to stop the Covid-19 further spread in the country. According to the United Nation in his press release, African countries including Nigeria are 2 – 3 weeks away from the devastating worst of the Covid-19 if urgent steps are not being taken. As the Corona virus will devastate poor country with weak healthcare system.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have been very proactive since the outbreak of the pandemic Corona virus in February 27th 2020 in combating the further spread of the Covid-19 by setting up of Isolation Centre’s in some part of the country. Currently, the Isolation Centre’s are in Lagos, Abuja, Edo, Enugu, while Kano centre will be set up. As this will further restrict movement of people from the Northern part of the country to Abuja. However, the challenges before NCDC are inadequate supply of ventilators which is a major equipment use in treating the pandemic Covid-19. Although the lack of ventilator is not only peculiar to the country is a global issue and drastic efforts have being taken to get more ventilators and other equipment to the shore of the country in no distance time. As some 18 foreign Doctors from China are ready to come and assist the country in that regards and other countries have shown greater commitment to further assist the country in combating the spread of the Corona virus pandemic.

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In Nigeria, Lagos is the epic centre of the dread disease with over 100 people being infected according to the Nigeria centre for disease control (NCDC) official report. Another strategist the government is adopting in curtaining the spread is self isolation of individual to combat the pandemic spread of the COVID-19 in the country. The President through his live broadcast to the nation on 29th March, 2020 have made a pronouncement that from 11:00pm of Monday being 30th March 2020, there will be total restriction of people for the next 2 weeks as part of government measures in combating the spread of the virus in the country. In the following 3 states of the federation Lagos, Abuja and Ogun state. While the federal government also set up a Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha. Other members of the Committee include Minister of Health, DG NCDC, Minister of Information, Humanitarian Services, Environment, Interior, etc. Most critics have criticized the government directive of lock down that is rather coming too late base on the fragile system of the country healthcare which has already fallen before the arrival of the Covid-19.

And blame the government on not commitment of the nation health system by the current and subsequent government in power in which the political expose Nigerian rely on foreign treatment of their illness at the expense of our health system. They are now calling on the government to revitalize the country health system starting from the Primary Health Centre. That if the Primary Health Centre is working we won’t find our self where we are by now. As side the challenges the country is facing in the health system, in addressing the Covid-19. Other issues confronting the nation health system lack of man power which is very critical as not anyhow person can be co-opted into the health system as Doctor, Laboratory Scientist and Nurses as volunteer.
As at now the number of Doctors in Nigeria as released by Channel TV from the data provided by the Nigeria Medical Association.
South West – 15,018
South East – 4,452
South South – 8,681
North West – 4,310
North East – 1,638
North Central – 6,861

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Shuaib is of the Good Governance Team, Abuja.

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