Making a Case for the 18-man Chinese Medical Experts in Nigeria by Dr Barth Ufoegbunam

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The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire while welcoming the Chinese medical experts that arrived Nigeria just yesterday, assured Nigerians that the team would proceed on a mandatory 14-day quarantine among other federal government instituted screening procedures, before they could be allowed into the Nigerian system.

The debates for and against their arrival have reached a crescendo in the last few days.
A number of organisations have kicked against the idea, while many others, on the other hand, have applauded the federal government for taking such initiative at this crucial time.

The National Universities Commission (NUC) said a few years ago that Nigeria needed about 300,000 medical doctors to meet the doctor-patient ratio of 1:600 recommended by the world Health Organisation (WHO)
Sadly, owing to the inadequate number of medical doctors employed in both private and public health facilities, one doctor presently attends to more than 6,000 patients in the country.

From reliable statistics, on the number of medical doctors presently engaged in the health sector, Nigeria has fewer than 45,000 medical doctors.
According to Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), there are about 80,000 doctors on its membership register with nearly about a half of them working in foreign countries.

The truth is that, Nigeria needs much more than the 18-man Chinese medical experts at this crucial stage of our battle against the unseen enemy, officially named COVID-19.

It had overwhelmed and made “a mincemeat” of some of the best healthcare systems in the world.
The healthcare infrastructures on ground in Nigeria are everything but strong.

The number of available doctors in the land is further being reduced aggressively by the avalanche of young doctors that are leaving the shores of Nigeria in droves on a daily basis in search of greener pastures; this  totals to about 2,000 doctors per year.

The resultant shortfall in the numerical strength of doctors practising in the country, occasioned by the brain drain, can hardly ever be augmented by the emergence of the newly graduating medical doctors from our medical schools, suffice it to say that a good number of them will end up leaving the country immediately after their mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exercise.

Without any iota of doubt, China happened to be the only country that has been “tested and trusted” with respect to the battle against coronavirus pandemic
Truly speaking, it’s at this early stage of the pandemic in Nigeria that we need all the assistance and advice we can ever get to ensure that Nigeria is able to flatten the curve.

It is  noteworthy to point out at this juncture, going by the clarification recently made by the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.
He pointed out that the whole arrangement came in form of a gift to the federal  government by the concerned good-spirited Chinese community in Nigeria, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nig Ltd and others. 
Apart from the 18-man medical experts, they have equally donated 50 ventilators among other medical consumables running into millions of naira.

The prevailing market price shows that one ventilator costs in the neighbourhood of 10 to 12 million naira.
Keep in mind that China is equally rendering a helping hand to America, Italy, Spain, France and to many other countries of the world battling relentlessly against this deadly contagion.

Their assistance will benefit Nigeria most at this very early stage of the pandemic,“not when water don pass garri”.

I have a strong belief that this piece will douse all doubts nursed by a few Nigerians who opined that their arrival would be tantamount to passing a vote of no confidence on the Nigeria medical professionals.
The Nigerian medical professionals have proven over and over again that given the right working conditions and remunerations, they could rule the world of medicine.
Do please check out the exploits of the Nigerian medical professionals abroad, if you’re in doubt.

It is difficult to conclude this write-up without commending the healthcare professionals in the front-line all over the world that are constantly putting their lives in harm’s way to save humanity from this unseen deadly enemy.
Sadly too, a good number of them have paid the supreme price in their line of duties,to our fallen colleagues: Your deaths can never be in vain.
May God strengthen your families and friends. Amen. 

Thumbs up to the Nigerian Task Force, ably led by Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and Dr. Olurunimbe Mamora, Dr. Chikwe  Ihekweazu of NCDC and all the state governments, for  their result-oriented approach to tackling COVID-19, all their relentless efforts towards ensuring that Nigeria is able to weather this storm of coronavirus  pandemic.

Kudos to all Nigerians particularly the Nigerian corporate community, faith based religious organisations, NGOs, not forgetting the Chinese community in Nigeria, Jack Ma, other foreign donors, the DG of WHO. Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and his team, and so many others too numerous to mention.

 I thank you all.

Dr. Barth Ufoegbunam
Anchor, WAP TV Health Matta
TV health talk show

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