Prof. Titus Ibekwe, Chair Continuing Medical Education/Professional Development Committee of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), has tasked health professionals on continuous advocacy on precautionary measures against COVID-19.

Ibekwe, a Professor of Otorhinolaryngology, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.

He was speaking against the backdrop of 100 days of COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria.

NAN reports that the first index case of the global pandemic in Nigeria was an Italian businessman who tested positive on Feb. 27 in Lagos.

Ibekwe noted that since life appeared to be gradually getting back to normal through reopening of worship places, business premises and schools reopening soon, there was need for intensified advocacy and enlightenment of the people.

“We must not ‘relax’ because a close look at the daily reports suggest that the fight is not close to being won yet.

“Let each and every one of us bring his or her talent to bear at this time. No single person or group knows it all about this fastidious disease (COVID-19).

“Information is still evolving. Precautionary measures remain our best armour for now. Together we can win because a stitch in time saves nine,” he said.

He, however, noted that some conflicting information from the scientific world regarding the features and management of the pandemic and reversal of policies by WHO and some respected scientific journals had not helped.

According to him, the doubts being cast on the reality of the disease even by some prominent secular and religious leaders have equally presented a serious setback in the fight against the disease.

He noted that some of these opinion leaders had misled their followers into throwing caution to the winds with catastrophic outcomes.

“Irrespective of the summersaults in policies and information, one thing is certain: COVID-19 is real – it is infectious and virulent, with attendant fatalities.

“Some schools of thought posit that if anecdotal evidence before us is something to go by, then COVID-19 in Nigeria is largely mild compared to the other climes.

“The reason behind this is not yet known but ‘cross-immunity’ bestowed through prior exposure to similar diseases within our environment could be an explanation.

“There is another opinion that herd immunity, through inadvertent exposures to SARS-Cov-2 virus, may help in stabilising this pandemic in our clime over time.

“Though as physicians, we should not succumb to the idea of nature taking its natural course, otherwise we may end up losing many susceptible citizens before getting to that stage, should herd immunity hypothesis be real,” Ibekwe said.

Ibekwe commended the media for the dedication toward the dissemination of information on the pandemic across the country.

He noted that frontline health workers, specifically medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab scientists, among others, had been exceptional in spite of the challenges of the inadequacy of basic equipment to work with.

According to him, frontline professional associations, Labour Unions and Civil Liberty Organisations equally deserve encomiums for their steadfastness in Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19, including constructive criticisms of the authorities.

He said that the criticisms were geared toward improving the measures in fighting the disease and mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic on Nigerian populace through distribution of palliatives.

“Nigerian Medical Association has been exceptional in its positive contributions to this fight. It never tarried in giving knocks or kudos to the government and relevant authorities where necessary.

“The intensive Educational and Enlightenment programme mounted through the Continuing Medical Education/Professional Development Committee of the Association received positive feedbacks from the populace.

“The NMA also carried along other organisations in the fight for the protection of the health workers which culminated in some positive dividends, including life insurance, review of conditions of service and allowances.

“Though, these are yet to be implemented,” Ibekwe said.

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