Daily Trust

COVID-19: How health work­ers put their lives on line to save Nige­ri­ans

- Health · Nigeria News · Medicine · Coronavirus (COVID-19) · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Media Trust · Kaduna State · Akwa Ibom · Nigeria · Plateau State · Kano State · Bayero University · Kaduna · Nigerian Medical Association · Jos

“I don’t have an idea of the num­ber of doc­tors that have been af­fected by COVID-19, but I am one of those that have been af­fected,” he said. In fact, the three in­dex cases of COVID-19 in the state were health work­ers. One of them, Dr Oto­bong Asuquo, an ob­ste­tri­cian and gy­nae­col­o­gist was in­fected dur­ing a free med­i­cal out­reach pro­gramme in the state he par­tic­i­pated in

The state Com­mis­sioner for Health, Dr Tomi Coker, said that a ded­i­cated team of doc­tors, mid­wives and other health work­ers took the safe de­liv­ery of the mother, who was asymp­to­matic.

Daily Trust re­ports that no less than 98 med­i­cal work­ers were in­fected by the coro­n­avirus out of which three deaths were recorded in the state.

Of the 98, 12 of them are doc­tors, while oth­ers are nurses and other cat­e­gories of health work­ers.

Dr Us­man Yelwa, a med­i­cal doc­tor with Jama’atul Nas­ril Is­lam Mus­lim Hospital lo­cated in Tudun Wada, Kaduna South Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment area of Kaduna state is seen as a hero by res­i­dents of Tudun Wada. He helped pa­tients and the com­mu­nity dur­ing the pan­demic by pay­ing home vis­its to check on their health and ed­u­cat­ing res­i­dents on the dan­gers and pre­ven­tive mea­sures of the virus.

Our cor­re­spon­dent re­ports that for many pa­tients in Kaduna State, the COVID-19 pan­demic had made them have a pho­bia for hos­pi­tals and so many had stayed away for fear that the hos­pi­tals could be breed­ing grounds for the virus.

Dr Yelwa also vis­ited the phys­i­cally chal­lenged and other less priv­i­leged within his im­me­di­ate com­mu­nity to treat and ed­u­cate them on the dan­gers of COVID-19 and its pre­ven­tive mea­sures.

“What gave me the courage to work dur­ing the pan­demic was the pas­sion I have for the job. I be­lieve this is my call­ing; I be­came a doc­tor be­cause I wanted to as­sist the less priv­i­lege. So when I re­alised that most of my pa­tients were scared of com­ing to the hospital be­cause of the virus, I de­cided to visit their homes to treat them. From there, I started to visit cer­tain lo­ca­tions to find dis­abled peo­ple just to check on how they were cop­ing and ed­u­cate them on the virus,” he said.

Though many peo­ple within his com­mu­nity had doubts about the ex­is­tence of the virus and claimed it was a po­lit­i­cal stunt, Dr. Yelwa was undeterred as he as­sem­bled and sen­si­tised the peo­ple around Tudun Wada about the virus.

Asked if he was scared for his life dur­ing the pe­riod, Dr. Yelwa said: “Of course, I was but that didn’t dis­cour­age me be­cause it is my job. I also knew ev­ery­one was scared at that time and peo­ple needed some­one to en­cour­age and ed­u­cate them on how to pro­tect them­selves by fol­low­ing all the guide­lines.”

Since the fight against COVID-19 be­gan, health work­ers in Akwa Ibom State have contribute­d in var­i­ous ways to help stem the spread of the dis­ease.

Pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions like the Nige­rian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (NMA) and the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety of Nige­ria (PSN) have do­nated Per­sonal Pro­tec­tive Equip­ment (PPE) like face masks and hand san­i­tiz­ers to hos­pi­tals and the pub­lic as well as em­barked on street sen­si­ti­sa­tion/aware­ness pro­grammes on the dis­ease.

At the peak of the fight, the then Chair­man of the Nige­rian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (NMA) in the state, Dr Nsikak Ny­oyoko, said the union was at the fore­front with the gov­ern­ment in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 pan­demic in the state, par­tic­u­larly among health work­ers.

“I don’t have an idea of the num­ber of doc­tors that have been af­fected by COVID-19, but I am one of those that have been af­fected,” he said.

In fact, the three in­dex cases of COVID-19 in the state were health work­ers. One of them, Dr Oto­bong Asuquo, an ob­ste­tri­cian and gy­nae­col­o­gist was in­fected dur­ing a free med­i­cal out­reach pro­gramme in the state he par­tic­i­pated in.

How­ever, he was not de­terred be­cause when he was cer­ti­fied free of the dis­ease, he just went back to work.

In their bid to make mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion to­wards the fight against coro­n­avirus and other in­fec­tious diseases in Plateau state and the coun­try, the trio of Wil­liams Gyang, Nura Jib­rin, and Ade­bo­lajo Sun­day, built an Au­to­mated Dis­ease Con­trol Sys­tem in Jos.

The sys­tem is built in three cat­e­gories that per­form al­most sim­i­lar func­tions of en­sur­ing preven­tion against in­fec­tious dis­ease.

Prior to the re­cent in­ven­tion of the au­to­mated ma­chines, Gyang and Jib­rin were on April 3, this year, cel­e­brated as he­roes across Nige­ria af­ter they vol­un­teered and fixed some bro­ken ven­ti­la­tors at the Jos Uni­ver­sity Teach­ing Hospital at no cost. They said they did it to save lives in the fight against the COVID-19 pan­demic.

Their con­tri­bu­tion to re­pair the two bro­ken ma­chines had saved the hospital mil­lions of naira.

Mr. Gyang, leader of the team said “Gov­ern­ments at var­i­ous lev­els are spend­ing huge amounts of money to fu­mi­gate places. They also spend money on Per­sonal Pro­tec­tive Equip­ment (PPE) to en­sure pro­tec­tion against the dis­ease, “he said. “At that time, even with the ven­ti­la­tors, we re­alised that the spread of COVID-19 was in the in­crease and the avail­able ven­ti­la­tors in the coun­try, are not suf­fi­cient com­pare to the pop­u­la­tion of the coun­try.”

He said for that rea­son, they came up with an idea of in­vent­ing the ma­chine that would nip in the bud the spread of the dis­ease.

Credit for the suc­cess story in the fight against COVID-19 in Kano is a re­sult of the col­lec­tive ef­forts of dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties en­trusted with re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to­wards cur­tail­ing the men­ace of the pan­demic in the state.

How­ever, co­or­di­na­tion of th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties and their ex­e­cu­tion by health work­ers in both iso­la­tion fa­cil­i­ties and lab­o­ra­to­ries were made pos­si­ble through re­sources gen­er­ated by the fundrais­ing com­mit­tee headed by the for­mer Vice-Chan­cel­lor of Bayero Uni­ver­sity, Pro­fes­sor Muham­mad Yahuza Bello.

The Prof Bello led-com­mit­tee brought about many in­ter­ven­tions from cor­po­rate bod­ies and pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als that saw to the es­tab­lish­ment of crit­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties needed to con­tain the pan­demic in the state.

The com­mit­tee also played a vi­tal role in the pro­cure­ment and dis­tri­bu­tion of pal­lia­tives to the vul­ner­a­ble house­holds dur­ing the COVID-19 lock­down which helped a great deal in lim­it­ing the rate of com­mu­nity trans­mis­sion of the dis­ease.

Pro­fes­sor Bello was ap­pointed by the Kano State Gov­er­nor, Dr. Ab­dul­lahi Umar Gan­duje as the Chair­man of Fund Rais­ing Com­mit­tee for COVID-19 in Kano State late March.

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