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Ibom Patriots demands unbundling of NCDC

* Says it'll enhance rapid response to Covid-19



* Calls for establishment of Test Centres across the nation

By Kenneth Jude

A foremost socio-political organization in Akwa Ibom State, Ibom Patriots, has called for the decentralisation of the operations of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 and the unbundling of some functions of the NCDC to make for a more rapid response to suspected cases.



In a statement jointly signed by Chancellor of the forum, Obong Bassey Inuaeyen; the Secretary General, Rt. Hon. Usenobong Akpabio; Dr. Okon Emah, Chairman (USD); Arc. Okon Obot Chairman (ISD) and Hon. Adasi Obolum, Chairman (ESD), they noted that the dependence of states on NCDC for test results on the status of suspected patients/carrier slows appropriate action/treatment and endangers not only the concerned life but others, who may contract it from unidentified contact.



The group called for a dynamic policy of establishing Test Centres in each state of the federation and Abuja, adding that cities like Lagos and Abuja may need multi-centres, to sufficiently address rising needs.



According to the statement addressed to the, Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, “The NCDC should, in line with its envisaged unbundling, ensure that Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), replicated in each State of the Federation as Incident Management Committees (IMC) are up to speed for effective and efficient “preparation, coordination, and management of response activities for public health events. Also, testing kits/materials should be readily available in all states.”



The group which comprises eminent sons of Akwa Ibom State, opined that decentralization will lead to quicker testing and quicker results, adding that it will also ease possible conflicts between NCDC and states in the announcement of confrmed results for positive persons/carriers.
“Where States and NCDC unnecessarily dispute figures of positive persons or not, it cast doubts and breeds suspicion on the reality of the pandemic which is totally unhealthy for the nation.”



They also made a case for essential workers including medical doctors, healthcare professionals who are classified as frontline workers, journalists/media workers and other personnel essential, saying that their continued harassment by security agents should be addressed urgently.



The forum called for more transparency in the treatment of patients, urging NCDC to make public the process vis-à-vis the drugs used for treatment. This, they said, will offer benefits to Medical Doctors and other frontline healthcare practitioners.



While acknowledging efforts made by NCDC in the area of publicity and enlightenment of people on the virus, Ibom Patriots urged the body to take Nigeria’s plurality into consideration in their awareness and enlightenment campaigns, adding that Local Government Councils/Wards should form the channels to engage in a robust sensitization and awareness campaigns.



“Through the community based approach, locals, indigenes and residents will get to see familiar faces and hear from voices of persons known to them and understood by them, to talk to them about the disease, using their local dialects/languages that they understand. This should be in addition to the existing channels of communication,” maintaining that “Bulk SMS sent/distributed centrally by NCDC cannot be enough to enlighten the people.”



They called on the federal government to fund the exercise through the PTF down to the grassroots, saying that the method will not only be effective and efficient, but will be cheaper than the reported billions of naira spent for SMS and other advertorials since the outbreak of the pandemic.



The statement urged NCDC to improve people’s perception of Covid-19 as a virus that is treatable as opposed to a death sentence, while calling for massive investment in the nation’s healthcare sector in addition to training and retraining of medical personnel yo meet up with the challenges of the time.



While calling on government, agencies and multi-nationals to promote drug research and development both in our universities and respective colleges, the body said the lockdown and restrictions on movement should be reviewed and eased out totally or in phases due to the adverse effect it has on the economy.



“The challenge of survival with prolonged or continuous lockdown and restriction of movement is becoming suicidal and government should not engage on it any longer. Instead, government should deepen basic health protocols that will standardise safety. Foreign countries with higher rate of infections and deaths are easing the lockdown. Without hesitation, we recommend that we do same.”



They expressed displeasure over the movement of persons during the lockdown in the shape of almajiris, stating that the movement is unhealthy more so at a time it coincided with the period the Nigerian Military is waging war against Boko Haram and other insurgents in the North.



The body called the federal government to work with the PTF yo ensure that the alleged complicity of security agents is investigated and offenders punished.



They also urged the federal government to review the current method employed by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) on the distribution of palliatives.



“We urge the ministry and the agency to establish functional offices in 774 local government areas for its registration and distribution schemes. This will offer them credible sources of reaching out to the people, particularly their target; the poorest of the poor.”

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