…in these additional days of the extended lockdown period, we shall get it better and the Nigerian government will truly address the plight of its citizens with various stimulus packages being distributed. There needs to be even distribution in the society and the right people…getting the packages intended to relieve their sufferings.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), in its renewed efforts at combating and addressing the coronavirus pandemic, has put in place some regulatory measures to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of diagnostic test kits coming into the country to aid the detection of the virus in patients.
According to a press release by NAFDAC, which was necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, measures to ensure access to health commodities that have the potential to impact positively on public health outcomes have been put in place. One of such measures is the diagnostics necessary to support public health infrastructure and guide the management of the disease and to fight its outbreak.
The press statement reads: “The antibody test kits (IgG/IgM) can be used in the COVID-19 confirmed individuals, who can then be tested at designated centres using the antibody kits, to confirm that they have antibodies and as such may not be infected again. The antigen tests kits on the other hand, can detect the COVID-19 antigen in patients with or without symptoms. The results are only qualitative (positive or negative).”
The press statement signed by the director general of NAFDAC further revealed that no vaccine or drug has been found or confirmed okay to treat coronavirus disease yet. Professor Mojisola Adeyeye observed that: “Please note, no vaccines have been approved for any clinical trial. That may not happen before one year to eighteen months, after clinical trials must have been conducted in different countries. This will be followed by rigorous in-country assessment in line with laid down protocols to further ensure safety and efficacy.”
Just a few days ago, Christians celebrated Easter, which was devoid of the usual hustle and bustle, no thanks to the coronavirus outbreak that forced a lockdown. The last few weeks have seen the globe groaning in the pain of losses and even grieving, as the death toll continues to rise against the backdrop of the ravaging virus.
This period is totally changing human nature that is characterised by physical interactions to virtual ones, which has made us to start thinking outside the box. The season deserves to be given what it demands, as it punishes us if we fail. While this period lasts, we can draw up some of the lessons that it has taught us. In its wake, this pandemic has exposed our poor capacity to manage humanitarian or disaster crisis. However, it would be fair to say that Nigeria, despite her poor health facilities, has risen to the occasion by setting up facilities to curtail the spread of the pandemic, and for this, she deserves some commendation. Despite the announcement by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that it can carry out 1,500 tests daily, we still haven’t seen that in play as its testing capacity is yet to be stepped up. The low casualty figures and high number of recoveries of the COVID-19 infections in Nigeria still remain cheerful, even though it calls for review because it is largely due to under-testing, in relation to the Nigerian population.
This season has also revealed the greedy nature of some leaders, who after acquiring and amassing wealth through taxpayer monies could not ensure the equitable distribution of the relief packages being shared by some of them. How can a law-abiding citizen who stays indoors due to the lockdown order get his relief package when it’s being shared and distributed on the streets and at other open places? The household-to-household method of distribution is only being adopted by private individuals and religious institutions, which has made nonsense of the whole distribution process since it’s only those who defy the stay-at-home order that get the relief packages. Let the government representatives ensure that the palliatives get to the appropriate sections of the society.
The lockdown in some parts of the country has, undoubtedly, brought untold hardship to many Nigerians. While the reason behind this lockdown is understandable, I consider the adherence or rather compliance to the social distancing method of curbing the COVID-19 spread as being below par.
We haven’t done this before, we are still on a learning curve and as such the experience is newly strange to our lives and living. While we join hands with the government to fight this unseen enemy, COVID-19, we must also register our displeasure at government’s one-way approach to the containment of its spread. The total lockdown of some parts of the country is not the only solution to curbing the spread of the virus. Yet, those asked to stay indoors are dying of hunger as they do not have access to the relief materials.
Just recently, a research study revealed that the coronavirus can travel four meters, which is twice the current recommended distance between people, making the social distancing less effective and not the best way to curtail the novel virus spread. How about relaxing the lockdown and then distributing packs of the face masks to all Nigerians? Professor Ben Ayade of Cross River State lent credence to this when he ordered the compulsory use of face masks by people in the State.
This article might be incomplete if I do not acknowledge the risky and highly sacrificial roles that our frontline health officers play in the fight against this unseen virus. Let the government reward them handsomely as promised. NAFDAC is doing its best but it could step up and do better in research and testing the capacities of drugs.
Having said all, we do sincerely hope and expect that, in these additional days of the extended lockdown period, we shall get it better and the Nigerian government will truly address the plight of its citizens with various stimulus packages being distributed. There needs to be even distribution in the society and the right people (the less privileged, the aged, physically challenged or disabled and other categories of the needy) getting the packages intended to relieve their sufferings. While the lockdown is not a license to commit crime, we have seen crime rates increase in some parts of the country, and one good way to prevent this is to provide food for the people locked indoors.
Nigeria, and indeed the whole world, is hanging on hope in this battle for life, as we look forward to an end to the darkness occasioned by COVID-19 sooner than we expect.
Kayode Ojewale writes from Idimu, Lagos via email@example.com.