Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) and other stakeholders in the healthcare delivery system have asked Nigerians to hold Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, responsible for the whereabouts of the Chinese medical team who arrived Nigeria last month to “assist” Nigerian health workers respond to COVID-19.
NMA President, Dr. Francis Faduyile, in a telephone conversation with Daily Sun in Abuja, flayed the minister for not being transparent in the mission and whereabouts of the Chinese team in Nigeria.
“We were told initially that they are medical doctors and nurses. But we are beginning to hear different things now. Few days ago, we were told that they are construction workers. We don’t know the true situation now. So, it is left for the minister to be truthful to Nigerians as regards these Chinese doctors,” he said.
Healthcare workers in Nigeria had kicked against the idea of bringing in the Chinese experts, but Ehanire, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olurunnimbe Mamora and other top government officials had insisted that their visit was necessary for the country to acquire the necessary knowledge and expertise to fight COVID-19. In fact, the ministers led a delegation of government officials to receive the Chinese team on the day they arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on a chartered Air Peace aircraft.
Ehanire’s denial of knowledge of their whereabouts and his insistence that they were never guests of the Federal Government, but of the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), with some of them not being doctors or nurses, has drawn criticism.
Faduyile said: “I was shocked and disappointed when I heard the minister asking journalists to stop questions about the Chinese doctors. That was so disappointing. He should be held responsible for the whereabouts of the Chinese doctors. If you remember, we opposed their coming initially, but the minister insisted that arrangements have been concluded for their coming because they would help us with their knowledge and experience to fight COVID-19.”
Former President, Post Graduate Medical College of Nigeria, Prof. Opubo Lilly-Tariah, also accused the government of not being sincere and transparent on the mission of the Chinese team.
“For the Minister of Health to welcome the Chinese doctors at the airport when they arrived Nigeria and now tell Nigerians something else is unacceptable. Obviously, the processes is questionable. However, we must ask ourselves if our fears about them have materialised. The answer is no from all indications. Our local health workers have been handling the matter right from the index case even though the cases have continued to rise,” he said.
National President, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Dr. Aliyu Sokomba, said they were not disappointed with what has been playing out as regards the Chinese doctors.
“We had already made our position known when the discussion about their coming was on. We insisted that we are not against their coming as long as they won’t have any contact with patients. So far, they have complied with that because we have not received any report on the contrary. Our members have been monitoring them closely and no such thing has been reported anywhere in Nigeria,” he said.