Is Nigeria Prepared To Fight Coronavirus?
By Igboeli Arinze
Like a dream of the night, the Coronavirus is here as I write this. piece, we are already counting five cases with another suspected case in Akure.
What started as an epidemic in China has now become a global pandemic; we have seen the virus threaten the globe. From China to South Korea, Italy and then to Spain and Great Britain as well as the mighty United States of America, the novel virus has sought to intimidate nations causing these nations to take drastic measures in order to reduce the rate of community infection, thus stemming the number of infections as well as deaths.
Recent findings have for now nullified the conspiracy theories that the virus was bio engineered by either the Chinese or the United States. I much find the argument that the virus was developed by the United States and deployed by the US military in China as laughable, why? Imagine the US developed such, in order to disrupt the.Chinese society, so that it can also experience similar disruptions does not add up!
For reasons beyond my thinking, perhaps I may cast my bets with Providence, the Nigerian nation has much been spared the burdens of experiencing what the nations earlier mentioned here have been experiencing. I do not like speaking ill of this country, but calling a spade a spade, I am worried about the consequences should we experience what other nations seriously hit by the virus are experiencing.
First of all we all know how the Nigerian Healthcare system operates, this I was told used to be the jewel of Africa that it was once said that the Saudi Royal Family used to visit University Hospital Ibadan for treatment. How we moved from this glorious state to mere consulting clinics as Sani Abacha described our hospitals then in his announcing the overthrow of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and then to it’s present state should not amaze anyone.
Lack of funding, massive corruption, lack of quality education, nepotism ,medical tourism as well as poor pay packages has plunged the Nigerian Healthcare system to an all time low. Patients now have to come early and take numbers to get treated in some cases, in other situations government clinics lack drugs and refer you to privately run pharmacies to purchase these drugs. That is not to say that it is a government problem alone, sometimes they do provide these hospitals with the drugs, it mysteriously finds its way into these privately run pharmacies.
Yet as a patriot, I do not want to believe that it is all gloom. This country, despite it’s parlous state still possesses men and women capable of teaching even the clan of developed nations a thing or two in medical greatness as in all fields. We defeated Ebola and we only have to look at a nation like Cuba and understand that where there is a will, the people will find a way.
Now that the virus is with us, the Nigerian government should not be found wanting, the Buhari administration in progressive collaboration with state governments should begin to deploy measures that would help prevent community infection. For example,why do we have only three testing centres (Lagos, Irrua and Abuja) ?.
Why can’t we have two testing centres per zone, given our inadequacies in road infrastructure and the need for immediacy in handling the cases, now that the possibility of a breakout lookalikely.
What about the isolation centres? How effective are they? Do we have the commensurate manpower to take care of those infected?
Again, measures have been taken to curtail the spread of the virus but these measures seem not to be enough. For example what economic measures are we going to size up tye possibility of a pandemic? How do we ensure that businesses and workers do not suffer from such. Are these businesses likely to benefit from bailouts from the Federal Government? How do we channel essential services to the ordinary man or woman hit by the virus? How do we keep such essential services going?
It is also very clear that the economy might go into a recession after this – the scale depending on the extent the virus hits us as a nation. The government should begin to plan for two kinds of scenarios which are based on the present situation and should we experience what nation’s like China, Italy or the United States of America.
Lastly, the. government should take measures to ensure that the citizenry are adequately informed, failure to do this will give fake news and misinformation the upper hand. This in turn will spark fear and panic and lead to a much worse situation, that we cannot afford.
In times like this, mankind must look to hope and resilience, Nigeria cannot afford to do otherwise, for as the Persian adage did say, “This too, shall pass!”