NMA Strike Is A Sad Development – C/River Govt

From Etim Bassey, Calabar

The Cross River government has decried the ongoing strike embarked upon by the state’s branch of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), describing it as a sad development.

The state’s commissioner for health and coordinator of Cross River Task Force COVID-19, Dr Beta Edu, who stated this in Calabar on Monday, said that the state has done no wrong in the handling of COVID-19 pandemic as it has abided by the laid down protocols.

Dr Edu maintained that neither the Cross River State government nor State Ministry of Health was informed about any of the five positive cases recorded by the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), adding that since the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said they are an independent centre, so they went ahead to do their job.

She explained that as a state, they don’t have powers to decide what happens in NCDC or Ebonyi State testing centre, further maintaining that whoever 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.

According to her, “other procedures include being able to at least identify who the patient is; do history taking and write it down and if the person meets the NCDC case definition criteria, then you take samples and ID number 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 standards all over the world which NMA CRS refused to go through and yet declared strike actions all because NCDC didn’t announce their five acclaimed cases,” she stated.

She wondered why NMA decided to go on strike simply because NCDC refused to upload results, insisting that it amounts to killing the same people NMA swore to protect, which is bad.

The commissioner said the state had requested for the details of the five cases and as soon as that is done, the task force would respond effectively as it is not rocket science for us to know these people.

The NMA had in a letter addressed to minister of health and dated July 5, 2020, withdrawn their services from public and private hospitals demanding explanations from NCDC why the five COVID-19 confirmed cases from UCTH carried out at the NCDC-accredited Molecular Laboratory at Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, have not reflected in the daily situation report of NCDC long after results had been transmitted to UCTH since July 1, 2020.

In the letter with reference No CRS/SG/2020/07/254 signed by Dr. Agam E. Ayuk and Dr. Ezoke Epoke as NMA’s chairman and the scretary respectively, titled ‘Notice of Withdrawal of Medical Services’, the association, among other things, stated that their members have been put in a precarious public health and safety situation due to the confusion and uncertainty created by the delayed updating of the results by the NCDC.

Maintaining that the government has abdicated its responsibility of contact tracing, treatment and care for the five confirmed cases, it added that in view of the above, it has “embarked on a total and indefinite withdrawal of medical services until NCDC and the State Ministry of Health give urgent and prompt attention to the issues raised.”

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