HURIWA raises alarm over the inefficient handling of Coronavirus pandemic by FG agencies •Warns of possible starvation by Nigerians forced to stay at home

Posted by News Express | 30 March 2020 | 371 times

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•NCDC CEO, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, fielding questions from newsmen

A civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has raised alarm that the Federal Government is simply spreading media propaganda to confuse the citizens to believe that it is confronting the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria when in actual fact, nothing tangible is being done

The rights said “apart from Lagos State which has shown good leadership and for making available food reliefs to 200,000 indigent families in state, there seems to be no well-coordinated approach in the fight against the spread of the dreaded health emergency.”

It also carpeted the few billionaires and corporate organisations purportedly making huge cash donations to the Federal Government-controlled Anti-Coronavirus Pandemic Fund instead of reaching out directly to millions of Nigerian households with essential foodstuffs and other basic needs that they need so urgently in this period of health emergency.

“Those making donations to government so as to attract tax rebates for their businesses are hypocrites. This is because these huge funds are not going to trickle down to those ordinary Nigerians who are in dare need of reliefs at this distressful time. The Fund that is being set up will probably be mismanaged since there is an opaque financial administrative style in the current administration,” HURIA said in a statement over the weekend.

The rights group said that it has received “from multiple sources confirmations that in Abuja all the media-pronounced agencies in charge of the frontline of the battles against the Coronavirus pandemic are currently in a state of organised chaos even as there is clearly no clarity regarding the specific roles of each of these units that are said to be in charge of the frontlines in the efforts of the Federal Government to contain the pandemic in Nigeria. 

HURIWA recalled that even the case of the first ever death from Coronavirus pandemic, the family claimed that the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) took the blood sample of the individual but failed to report the outcome not until the family pestered the officials regarding the deterioration of the health of their family member who eventually died and became the first Nigerian to have died from Coronavirus.”

“The lack of political will on the part of government to provide enough resources and manpower to drive the process of waging concerted battles against the pandemic of CORONAVIRUS is suicidal and this official lackadaisical attitude to this health emergency will spell doom for Nigeria.

“There are credible reports coming in to our office in Abuja daily regarding the different manifestation of lethargic approach towards this life threatening health issues that have risen from the global health emergency of Coronavirus pandemic which has become disturbingly a grave threat to Nigerians,” HURIWA said in the statement signed by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf.

It disclosed that it is in receipt of a save-our-soul message sent to its official mail by a group of medical workers in the Federal Capital Territory which read in part: “To tell you the truth, NCDC can’t do anything for you because they are not ready. All this Public Relations they are doing they are assuming people will not try that’s why.”

HURIWA further affirmed that the well detailed accounts from the medical workers in distress in the nation's capital which stated that: “On March 25, 2020 I and a colleague of mine decided we want to be sure of our status before going into #Selfisolation. So we went through some steps.

“We called the toll free line and after all the normal recorded stories, when we chose to speak to an agent they ended the call;

“We went to University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, they told us they don't do testing there, that the hospital is only an isolation center. They referred us back to NCDC office in town, told us that's where testing lab is;

“We drove to NCDC office at Jabi. There are two NCDC offices there in close proximity. The first office told us they don’t do testing but they directed us to the second office saying that’s where testing is handled;

“The second office too absolved themselves of that responsibility and directed us to NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Gaduwa; 5. We visited the NCDC NRL. On getting there, the security at the gate informed us that a lot of people were there too earlier in the day and were turned away. That they don't do testing for individuals unless your state took your sample and submitted to them;

“They referred us to a circular posted at the gate and told us to contact the FCT Epidemiology team on COVID-19;

“When I called him I introduced myself by name and then asked him if he's the FCT team lead on this issue. He answered yes. I then asked him how do I go about getting tested. He asked, ‘who are you? Who gave you my number?’ I told him I’m an Abuja resident and his number is on a circular at the NCDC office. He told us he doesn’t know. He said we should go to NCDC. I told him but they referred us to you. He was silent. I then asked him to advise us. He told us to go to ‘National Health Disease Control’ which doesn’t exist.”

HURIWA recalled that the worried medical workers informed them that, obviously they were doing selective testing which is dangerous, adding: “It means that a lot of people might have been infected already but for lack of testing they are moving about infecting others. While the information from the official channels are saying people are not coming forth, the truth is that people are going but are been turned away. And I know because I was turned away first hand.”

HURIWA asserts further that these medical workers further informed them that “it also tells you that either the NCDC are lying to us or they are not coordinated at all. How will you explain three branches of the office each denying responsibility and pointing us to the next instead of just explaining to us the laid down procedures by the NCDC.”

HURIWA has therefore called on the Director General of the NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health to engage professionals to help the centre for disease control as an organisation to properly coordinate the mandates of this very strategic office because what is manifesting is showing that either the organisation lacks the right calibre of field staff or the institution is grossly underfunded or understaffed both of which the rights group said are very dangerous to Nigeria’s national security interest at this time given that the Coronavirus pandemic has the capacity to inflict unquantifiable harvests of death of millions of innocent Nigerians.

“May we also call on the Federal Government to make adequate preparation to protect health workers, following the media reports of the contracting of the Coronavirus by some health workers just as the health workers, who are staff of a government hospital in Abuja, were part of medical personnel that attended to an infected person brought to the hospital.

“Two nurses and a doctor have been confirmed to have tested positive for Coronavirus at a hospital in Abuja, Nigeria's capital. HURIWA blamed the federal government for exposing these medical staff to avoidable risks and deaths.”

The rights group has also raised alarm that sooner rather than later there could be deaths from starvations by Nigerians who are complying to government’s shutdown of economic activities and are staying at home without any sort of foodstuffs to eat or even cash to buy groceries or medicines.

“HURIWA is currently aware that some distressed families are currently starving in Abuja and have reached out to us for urgent food aids to be able to avoid starvations that they are facing since the last few days that government shut down most economic activities and have forced people to stay in their homes.

“Government must urgently provide reliefs and food aids to indigent families to stop the imminent deaths from starvations by Nigerians forced to stay at their homes,” the rights group demanded.


Source: News Express

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