Doctors under the umbrella of the National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP) have urged the Federal Government to be proactive against disease outbreaks in the country.
The organisation also faulted the comment once made by Minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, that Nigeria has ‘enough’ medical doctors to attend to the needs of patients.
President of the NAGGMDP, Dr Dokun Noel stated these on Tuesday in Abuja during the association’s 2022 National Executive Council meeting themed ‘The role of General Practitioners in nation building,’
Noting that Nigeria is always reactive to epidemics and has yet to learn from previous epidemics, Noel, however, tasked the government to utilise preventive measures instead of curative measures in tackling disease outbreaks.
He said “The problem with Nigeria’s system is that we have always been in the reactive state when it comes to epidemics. It was when Ebola happened that we started thinking of what to do, and when COVID-19 started was when we started thinking of what to do. If we have followed the trend of Monkeypox, you will know that we are still lagging behind.
“In 2018, Monkeypox was referred to as a Nigeria disease in a publication in Britain whereas the first girl that had it was in Congo in 1970. And we have not learnt from our past mistakes, we put too much emphasis on other things but we should be looking at the preventive aspect and make sure that we have protocols on how to prevent diseases.”
According to him, the economic impact of disease outbreaks in the country is always huge.
“The cost is massive because there is a barrier placed on our people from travelling when they said disease is a Nigeria disease. If they say something is coming out of Nigeria that is bad, then it’s not limited to the goods we send out but individuals are affected and it will affect everyone. We don’t know the effects now but it will get worse if we don’t do anything.
“We need to get it right, we need to develop our homegrown ways on how to deal with diseases.
“Medical schools are churning out doctors and they are leaving because they are looking for greener pastures and our people feel it is okay but we are getting it wrong.”
On Ngige’s comment of Nigeria having enough medical doctors, Noel said: “We need to stop fooling ourselves in this country that doctors are there, we know that there are not there. The hospitals are all crying that there are not enough doctors and yet somebody in charge of health is saying that there are doctors. Where are they? Are they manufactured in a workshop?
“People should stop making irresponsible statements. The hospitals are suffering. The government is saying there is no money. Nigerians need to call our leaders for their utterances which maybe inflammatory.”
Speaking on the impact of monkeypox on a fragile economy, Dr Stephanie Oni-Ogunbor said there is a need for increased awareness of Monkeypox.
“In July 2022, the World Health Organisation declared Monkeypox a disease a public health emergency of international concern and it means that we will likely be tolling the line of COVID-19. It is high time everybody was aware of what the symptoms are and how to care for the disease.
“The economic impact of the disease is enormous. COVID-19 started like a tick and it became a global issue, there is a possibility that can happen with monkeypox. Right now, the spread of the disease is beyond Africa and we must be very careful,” she said.