FG’s COVID-19 testing option, figure not realistic, says NMA

The Nigerian Medical Association has expressed concerns over the ‘smart testing’ option adopted by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control for COVID-19.

It said despite that the nation had recorded its 5,000 COVID-19 positive case, the testing method had not revealed the real incidence of the virus in the country.

The association made its position known in a statement on Thursday by its President, Dr Francis  Faduyile; and Secretary General, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote.

“While the NCDC has carried out only 29,400 tests, as of May 14, 2020, we appreciate the reasons advanced for the ‘smart testing’ option by the NCDC.

“However, it has become apparent that this method has not revealed the real incidence of COVID-19 in Nigeria. NMA, therefore, advocates fast-tracking of testing using innovative specimen collection and transport modalities to ameliorate this deficit in technique,” the statement read.

The NMA cautioned the Federal Government against home treatment of COVID-19 patient. It urged the government to put the peculiarities in Nigeria into consideration and adapt the new World Health Organisation’s regulation.

It said, “The association is carefully studying the overall impact of the newly approved WHO’s home treatment policy for COVID-19 patients. While accepting the noticeable acute shortage of bed spaces available at the designated centres, NMA cautions that the peculiarities in Nigeria should be taken into consideration and therefore urges FG to adapt this new regulation.

“Nigeria has an average of six persons per household; and consequently, wholesale adoption of this guideline may not be applicable here. We risk an explosive regime of community transmission if we adopt the guidelines completely without modifications, especially in situations of poor housing and overcrowding.

“Following from this, NMA is of the firm conviction that revamping our abandoned General Hospitals and Primary Health Centres will mitigate the challenges with home treatment and acute shortage of bed spaces.

“We still maintain that isolation and treatment centres should stand alone to avoid the nosocomial spread of this infection especially in settings of poor hygiene practices.”

The NMA described the acceptance of the herbal remedy from Madagascar ‘Covid Organics’ by the Federal Government as an act of pulling all stops in search of remedial interventions in protecting the lives of Nigerians.

“NMA insists that the herbal mixture undergoes due diligence based on scientific methods before authorising its use in the polity while urging the government to leapfrog the revitalisation of research and production activities of our pharmaceutical industries,” the association added.

The NMA again expressed displeasure at the continued obstruction of the NCDC by the governments of Kogi and Cross River states, saying “This impedance is despite the lofty provisions in the NCDC Establishment Act (2018) which empower the organisation to ‘prevent, detect, monitor and control’ activities and programmes for the national response against infectious diseases epidemics and other public health emergencies; and also to  ‘lead, develop, coordinate’ these activities.”