If at all there are critical takeaways from this pandemic, it has to be the need to pay attention to our healthcare system. A country without hospitals and a functional healthcare system, is no country at all. This is enough reason to fix our health care systems, our hospitals, universities and laboratories.


By 11.00 a.m. Saturday morning, the shelves in my local supermarket were rid of all the tissue paper. No one is certain why Nigerians went into a frenzy buying up tissue paper. Fear, though, is the most contagious other aspect of the new coronavirus pandemic currently afflicting the world, and this has become a common currency. On an international news station, a world leader described the pandemic as causing the most fear after World War II.

Not only does the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic on our shores further elucidate the gap between the health infrastructure in the Western world and that of developing countries, it also highlights how advanced these countries are when it comes to financial planning and resource utilisation. These countries have huge financial reserves to cushion the effect of the economic downturn which we all expect as a result of COVID-19.

We have also seen common attributes that leaders across the continents share and how leaders have risen to the occasion, giving their people hope even when there is not much to go by. We have seen world leaders own their respective spaces and act to deal with the pandemic. The president of the U.S.A, and the prime minister of the United Kingdom are examples of leaders of the pack. The announcement that Russia sent military doctors to Italy, was greeted by most with a smile. Perhaps this virus will make more friends out of countries.

Back in Nigeria, and in Lagos State to be precise, one cannot but be pleased with the responsiveness of the Lagos State governor. Perhaps the fact that he has surrounded himself with some of the best hands as advisers, has served us well at this time. Whilst we must applaud some of the actions taken, especially with the awareness being created, we must admit that we have a lot of ground to cover still.

At a different level, how can we forget that a typical “danfo” that should sit perhaps eight passengers, currently carries at least 14 to 16 passengers. How can one stop germs from getting to the next person in these conditions, even when the mouth is covered during a sneeze?


Because we do not yet have a cure or vaccine, we are left to take precautionary measures, including measuring the distance between each other, using alcohol-based sanitisers, washing our hands ever so frequently and taking vitamins and immunity boosters. But, in truth, in the less fancier habitations in Nigeria, how realistic is social distancing? Especially when you consider the face-me-I-face-you type of accommodation in which a lot of our people live.

In addition, hand sanitisers are expensive. A small 100ml bottle costs at least N1,500. How many can afford this? The best option remains water and soap. Then again, how many communities have clean water available to them? The incidence of water-borne diseases is still a problem here. At a different level, how can we forget that a typical “danfo” that should sit perhaps eight passengers, currently carries at least 14 to 16 passengers. How can one stop germs from getting to the next person in these conditions, even when the mouth is covered during a sneeze?

This pandemic has brought to the fore all that is wrong with our society. It has shown how ill-prepared we are for large-scale emergencies.

If this pandemic were to take root in our slums, this would exacerbate its management. Since these places will serve as fertile breeding grounds for the virus. In this regard, we have been lucky thus far. But we have to fix our space. There is no other way to say it.


The U.K. government announced that it had a shortage of ventilators, with only 8,175 available, but with plans to deliver 5,000 new ventilators within a month. And partly because of this, U.K. citizens are up in arms, describing their health system as unprepared. One wonders how many ventilators we have in Nigeria. If at all there are critical takeaways from this pandemic, it has to be the need to pay attention to our healthcare system. A country without hospitals and a functional healthcare system, is no country at all. This is enough reason to fix our health care systems, our hospitals, universities and laboratories.

Then there is much work to be done around communication, education and the creation of awareness. Not many have electricity to power their TV sets. Neither do they have access to social media. So, they are somewhat disconnected from a rapidly-changing reality. Which explains why our markets and motor parks are still brimming with people touching one another, blowing their nose into the gutters and squeezing themselves into public vehicles.

If this pandemic were to take root in our slums, this would exacerbate its management. Since these places will serve as fertile breeding grounds for the virus. In this regard, we have been lucky thus far. But we have to fix our space. There is no other way to say it. As far as we know, this pandemic is no respecter of persons. It has found a home in the rich and the poor. So really, this is one of those disease that money cannot kill. On a lighter note, the crisis around COVID-19 has not been all doom and gloom. At least, families have been forced to live together. Something that many have not enjoyed for a while.

‘Lande Atere is a lawyer and everyday girl.