The National Publicity Secretary, Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), Dr. Casmir Ifeanyi has expressed concern over the level of preparedness of the health system in containing the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country.
Dr. Ifeanyi, who made this known in an interview with Radio Nigeria in Enugu, alleged that medical and health workers were not carried along in the current plan to manage the virus.
He said this might affect rapid and efficient containment of the deadly disease which had gradually started spreading in the country.
Dr. Ifeanyi said notwithstanding that “We have over forty thousand medical laboratory work force in the country, NCDC, the Federal Minister of Health, State Ministries of Health have not gotten across to us on how to prepare, on how to provide diagnosis for the people, on how to deal with the morbidity that will be occasioned by this outbreak; and I’m not just talking about medical laboratory alone, ask nurses, ask pharmacists that you know, ask member of the four core clinical services in the hospital; now what is happening, it has been turned to an enterprise of the physicians.”
Dr. Ifeanyi also decried the poor condition of medical laboratories in government health facilities and described it as a major challenge affecting healthcare delivery.
“Our worry is that they have not provided reagents, we are closed to a hundred teaching hospitals in the country; that is if you add our teaching hospitals and our federal medical centers, none of these can boast of class three bio-safety cabinet, a real time … preliminary chain reaction testing system for any and all forms of emergency.
I hope you know Lassa-Fever is an indigenous disease but fifty years down the line, we do not have in-country capacity to diagnose Lassa Fever at points and states that are endemic for the disease,” Dr. Ifeanyi cried out.
The National Publicity Secretary of laboratory scientists urged the Federal and State Governments to improve on the quality of services and condition of isolation centres as well as the emergency response of the Centre for Disease Control to enable them to be prepared for adequate management of patients.
He said, “If you call the EOC, that is the Emergency Outbreak Centre of the NCDC, you will get the shock of your life. AIT made a caricature of the EOC and that shows you how ill prepared, if not unprepared that we are.
If you visit the isolation centres, you will weep for this country. The Senate President Ahmed Lawal, visited the one in Abuja and almost shed tears. If the one in Abuja is nothing to write home about by the standard of the Senate President, then you can be sure of what is happening across the states.”
Dr. Ifeanyi appealed for encouragement of laboratory scientists and others who had carried out successful research to handle infectious diseases.
He urged the government and managers of the health systems in the country to take the warning of the World Health Organisation to Africa seriously by training relevant health and medical personnel to nip the spread of the Coronavirus in the bud.
“There is still time for us to assembly critical mass of the healthcare work force and train them and make testing devices available for them to do their work so that people can readily access testing. Why would you not do an algorism testing on the person that person that had just come into the country so that you are able to pick the viral levels if the person is beginning to develop the disease, even when he is asymptomatic? If that is not done, I tell you this virus will take a toll on us,” Dr. Ifeanyi queried.
According to Dr. Ifeanyi, it will be dangerous for a country that is still battling with the issue of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene to allow the virus to spread further.