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It Is Not True That Nigerian Doctors Run Away From Coronavirus Patients – NMA

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Coronavirus NigeriaThe National President of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile has come out to say that the association has been finding it hard to deal with Nigerian coronavirus patients without symptoms.

He recently came out to say that it is also not true that doctors or other health workers are running away from patients because Nigerian doctors have shown a high level of commitment and professionalism during this pandemic.

According to him, the main solution to the outbreak is the availability of necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and basic amenities at all times, something only the Nigerian government can guarantee.

He added that hospitals have faced their own challenges, ranging from lack of tools for standard infection prevention and control in our healthcare facilities, concealment of relevant medical history by patients and COVID-19 patients without any suggestive symptoms.

His words, “Well, I do not think it is correct that doctors or other health workers are running away from patients. In fact, medical and dental practitioners and other healthcare professionals in this country have displayed high level of commitment and professionalism during this period amidst the fragile nature of the health system.”

“Asking for appropriate protective equipment as prerequisite for attending to a patient, especially after an initial triage process or referral to another healthcare facility for adequate care, which might have been the narrative in some of the cases, does not constitute professional malpractice, misconduct or negligence. Don’t forget the physicians’ pledge attach immense importance to physicians’ health and well-being in the realization of optimal care.”

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“Firstly, let’s understand the fact that there is no reason for Nigerians, regardless of status, to experience psychological trauma (which is unquantifiable most times) and ugly outcomes arising from difficulty accessing healthcare services.

Unfortunately, the precarious state of our health sector carries with it lots of impediments in accessing healthcare services even in the pre-COVID-19 era. In respect of difficulty being faced by non COVID-19 patients, it’s pathetic to say the least. But to be sincere with ourselves, it is unexpected based on the state of our health system and amidst a pandemic like COVID-19 which has caused surprise devastation to even developed nations like US, UK, etcetera.

Again, the reasons for this is multidimensional and range from lack of tools for standard infection prevention and control in our healthcare facilities to the concealment of relevant medical history by patients and their relations with healthcare workers being at the receiving end. As you are aware, we have had cases of COVID-19 without any suggestive symptoms.

The implication is unnecessary mortality from other ailments that would most likely be exponential post-COVID-19. In addition, it will worsen the health-seeking behaviour of Nigerians with loss of confidence in the health system. The NMA has continued to educate stakeholders including its membership on the need to put in place strategies that would cushion the ripple effects of COVID-19 on consumers of healthcare with other health challenges. It can only get better by the day.”

“The way out of this is to strengthen preparedness and readiness for which infection prevention and control is a critical element. Our hospitals and healthcare facilities must ensure the observance of standard precautionary measures and employ transmission-based precautions whenever the need arises. This calls for the availability of necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and basic amenities at all times and government at all levels must show responsibility in this regard. On the part of the health workforce, a high index of suspicion is of utmost importance.”

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“The issue of culpability largely depends on the event(s) that led to harm or death in the course of care-seeking. Therefore, it is a matter of diligent professional and/or legal scrutiny. On the part of health workers, it is primarily in the jurisdiction of the various professional councils like the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) in the case of medical and dental practitioners. Pronouncement of liability can only be made after following due process and culpability is established.”