Why Are Kogi Coronavirus Deaths Happening In Abuja?

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In the news: Abdulateef Suleiman, Personal Assistant to the governor of Kogi, Yahaya Bello, has been confirmed dead. 

In the news: Kogi State Chief Judge, Nasir Ajanah has reportedly died at the COVID-19 isolation centre in Gwagwalada, Abuja. 

The deaths in Abuja and not in Kogi State is a source of worry and should concern all Kogites. Why did these potential Covid-19 cases travel to Abuja for health care? Why were there no suitable places in the whole of Kogi state, capable of treating such eminent people? What is the health care situation in Kogi State and what are Kogites doing about it? 

Who is coming to Abuja next? What hospital would you go to?

Private hospitals: The government banned private hospitals from attending to Covid-19 victims even though private hospitals are a large part of the resources and manpower for health in Nigeria. The Minister of Health was so short-sighted in this decision, it’s infuriating. Many patients, especially the rich and famous do not trust government hospitals and would prefer to go to private hospitals in the first instance. But, many of the hospitals are not equipped to fight the virus and now have their hands tied behind their backs. 

Public hospitals: The health care personnel in the frontlines do not feel appreciated or supported. Many do not have the personal protective equipment (PPE) that would offer protection from the virus. Hospitals and especially the designated centres are not well catered for. Many hospitals do not have trained and well-kitted staff members.

We heard recently that those collecting Covid-19 test samples have not been paid for months. They have therefore abandoned their posts. The resident medical doctors were refused their entitlements and hazard allowances that the government promised. So, they also went on a short strike. 

Hospital staff are now scared when people are sick with either coronavirus or anything else. In fact, it is coronavirus and Covid-19 until proven otherwise. So, for those presenting with hypertension, heart failure, kidney failure and an asthma attack, hospitals are the worst places to go in Nigeria today. The doctors and nurses simply run away or pretend there are no beds. The poor service delivery is leading to deaths, many unnecessary and totally preventable. 

The Government: The government has lost the will and the liver for this fight. The Federal response has been bedevilled by the poor appetite for constructive and deliberate activities to fight a good fight. The response was initially frantic following donations from well-meaning individuals and companies. Soon as the money was shared, all went quiet and the government has surrendered the reigns to individual Nigerians.

The people: The Presidential Task Force (PTF) has also now abdicated its leadership role and told Nigerians to find survival wherever they can. The advocacy about the virus has been poor, shoddy and elitist. These PTF people speak such good English that 90% of the population do not understand a word, let alone believe the messenger.  

The truth, of course, is that no one is above the Coronavirus and anyone can be affected. So, all of us must take full responsibilities for our behaviour and activities. The little we now know is that social distancing works. It is also best with a properly worn facemask and hand hygiene. 

So, it is sad when one sees many going about their business in a carefree and careless manner. This type of failures in the systematic protection of the whole population puts all at risk. It puts families and loved ones at risk. It especially puts medical personnel at risk. 

Back to Kogi: Coming to Abuja may not be in the best interest of patients from Kogi or any other state. Abuja is no safer than Kogi State. The sad fact is that the private hospitals in Abuja are not miracle centres. The most important thing to do is to be safe and make sure you do not play with people who think the virus is a joke. Anyone with this mindset do not value their life and definitely not yours. 

This list includes the governor. 

NB: Please continue to donate PPE’s and support healthcare workers in your local areas in whatever ways you can. Doctors for Change, Nigeria (DFC) is embarking on this as a community service; supplying frontline health workers with free PPE. Companies, banks and ordinary well-meaning Nigerians should please redouble the efforts to support this fight. The time is now!

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