Doctors in Cross River begin indefinite strike
• Govt flays action, says it endangers millions of lives
• UCTH denies driving patients from isolation centre
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Cross River State branch, has commenced indefinite strike to protest against the way the state government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) were handling COVID-19 cases in the state.
Rising from its emergency general meeting on the night of July 5, 2020 where it deliberated on COVID-19 testing, surveillance, contact tracing, isolation, treatment and care in the state, the NMA ordered all its members in public and private hospitals to withdraw their services until NCDC and the state’s Ministry of Health attend to the issues raised.
In a nine-point resolution addressed to the Minister of Health, the state chairman, Dr. Agam Ayuk, and secretary, Dr. Ezoke Epoke, stated, “The association demands explanation from NCDC why the five COVID-19 cases from University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) confirmed 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 since July 1, 2020.
“Congress demands explanation on why epidemiology code numbers have to be generated by Cross River Ministry of Health before results of samples sent by UCTH to an NCDC-approved laboratory can be published by NCDC, despite having approved UCTH as an independent test centre.”
The NMA passed a vote of no confidence in the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, and referred her to the NMA National Disciplinary Committee and Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) for the unethical handling of COVID-19 testing in the state, thus putting lives at risk and bringing the association to disrepute.
However, the state government has described the strike as ill-advised.
The Commissioner for Health said yesterday that doctors’ strike endangers millions of lives.
“So, you go on strike because NCDC refused to upload results? This is killing the same people NMA swore to protect. This is bad,” she added.
She rejected claims that the state had not managed the COVID-19 pandemic well, insisting that it had been above board and even at the forefront of managing the pandemic in the country, having started as early as January 7, 2020 by sensitising her people, setting up the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) with the NMA.
“For testing, Cross River is attached to Irrua in Edo State. It requires a whole day’s travel and most times even when you get there they will complain of lack of reagents in the laboratory. It made the process cumbersome to get results ready even within 48 hours amid the numerous expenses, while we kept calling on NCDC to set up our own laboratory.”
Meanwhile, UCTH has denied using armed policemen to chase patients out of its isolation centre.
The Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof. Ikpeme A. Ikpeme, stated yesterday in Calabar that the centre had been maximally occupied.
Describing the accusation posted on Facebook by one Adoga Micheal Oyi as mischievous and far from the truth, the CMD said the isolation centre had been functional till date.
This was coming on the day the NMA decided to down tools in the state, accusing the government of poor handling of COVID-19 test results.
“The attention of the management of UCTH has been drawn to a Facebook post by a certain Adoga Michael Oyi claiming that ‘the CMD, with the aid of armed policemen, chased away all patients in the isolation centre.’ Nothing could be more mischievous and further from the truth. Adoga Michael Oyi needs to hide his head in shame.”
Warning mischief-makers to stop dragging the name of the hospital into the mud, the management said, “The UCTH has refused to be drawn into the unnecessary politicking currently ongoing on these issues, and will remain stoutly so.”
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