By Prof. Chima A. Onoka
This is a call to action.
The world has changed in weeks and will never be the same.
It is wartime, friend.
COVID-19 has brought unprecedented times.
It is time to end the blame game and wake up to a fight…a fight of FAITH and STRATEGY. It is time to take responsibility.
I invite you to roll your sleeves and get ready for the battlefield.
What you should STOP DOING NOW!
Fear and Panic (this is unhelpful)
Docility and finger pointing
Blaming hospital managers
Blaming China or other countries
Blaming those traveling into your country (citizens or foreigners)
Blaming affected relations, friends or colleagues in our neighborhood
Blaming God (It’s humans that filled the earth with evil)
Calling for a strike (industrial action) for any reason (it will be a regrettable step)
Arguing that more developed countries have abundance of protective gadgets (you are wrong)
Sharing fake news whether positive or negative (you will be held accountable for lives that you deceive)
Holding back your resources, time and competence where you are healthy TODAY to give
What you should START DOING NOW!
YOU: Stop being an ostrich. Take responsibility. Faith is a risk that you cannot risk living without! YOU NEED FAITH…YOU ALSO NEED STRATEGY to operationalise it.
EVERYONE: Sign up to participate in the adoption of the right strategies e.g. Social Distancing PLUS Active finding/reporting of the sick. Social Distancing alone will not solve the problem. It will also only last as long as people have stored food to eat in their homes. Unfortunately, many Nigerians survive on daily income in the streets. That’s some trouble if there’s no strategy.
HEALTH WORKER (Doctor, Nurse, Pharmacist, Laboratory Scientist, Students): Arise to play your part, ask for clinical guidance, and get ready for work. There is no hideout, home inclusive.
RESEARCHER/ACADEMIC (especially in the health sector): It is time to harvest information daily and provide solutions.
MDCN, NMCN, PSN, PCN, WACP, WACS, NPMCN, MLSCN, NMA, NANNM, APHPN, ARD, CMDA, etc. Wake Up. You existed for reasons more than just meetings, unionism, welfare, conferences and examinations. Nigeria has no one actively summarising emerging research evidence daily and providing clinical guidance. It is not NCDC’s primary role. NIMR is challenged. Can you take up the challenge NOW to ACT and DEMAND action?
HEALTH FACILITY MANAGEMENT: If you are waiting for NCDC to manage the actual response in your health facility, you are a joker. It’s over 200 million people that are at risk of losing millions, who could be anyone. It is time to reschedule cold cases, elective surgeries, and give long-term prescriptions to managed patients. It is time to free up more wards. It is time to train all your staff irrespective of department and specialty into care givers in an emergency. It is time to have an established team providing local clinical guidance daily. It is time to reallocate resources and go beyond the budget restrictions on responsible MDAs of government.
PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, GOVERNORS, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS: It is time to review resources. Be courageous. This is time to reallocate government budgets. Channel them to public health, provision of food, logistic, supplies and hospitals. You need to have those to govern at the end of this war. Do all possible to provide resource support and security for the health workers streaming out to the front-lines. Prepare the police and civil defense for the job of control. Fund the Rapid emergency local production or test kits NOW. Work with any entrepreneur that is promising.
RELIGIOUS LEADERS: It is time to give your resources for a cause for humanity. Mobilise your members in Churches, Mosques for social distancing and identification of the sick. It is time to show love. If you are a health worker in a church for example, the church is waiting for you. Who else are you waiting for to guide them?
ENTREPRENEURS, LOCAL COMPANIES, EQUIPMENT OWNERS: We NEED you to do all that is possible to mass produce/supply test kits and for other hospital equipment
DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES & DONORS: If Nigeria has helped you grow in wealth, it is time to respond in love. Pay for test kits, logistics and for defending the security and health personnel in the frontlines.
FAMILIES: Keep an eye on your loved ones. Stay healthy. Adjust your meals if possible, in order to manage through this period. Share with those you can. If you are in quarantine, cooperate if you truly love your family.
FAITH & PRAYER: This is a time for honest and passionate prayers. Friends, this is real. Life is short unless it is connected to eternity. So, CONNECT. It’s time to call on the Lord for mercy and restoration. It is time to support the sick, vulnerable and fearful among us and to pray for the frontline workers in this battle. It is time to LOVE.
It’s time to fight, to volunteer, to lead, to give and to commit personally to take responsibility…for the NIGHT is coming when no one can work.
▪ Onoka, a public health physician & health systems economist, is the Executive Secretary, Christian and Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA) Nigeria
By Prof. Chima A. Onoka