In continuation of the fight against the spread of Coronavirus in the State, the Rivers State Inter-ministerial Committee on COVID-19 has enhanced its efforts with a collaboration with key health care professional organisations in the State.
The organisations are the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), and Nigeria Optometric Association (NOA), all Rivers State Chapters.
Speaking with the Executives of the leadership of the organisations, today, in a one-day stakeholder meeting in Port Harcourt, the Chairman of the Committee, Paulinus Nsirim, said the meeting was necessitated by the need to sustain the proactive measures taken by the State Governor in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the Governor of Rivers State has been very proactive in the fight against COVID-19. For us to sustain the achievements recorded so far as a State, there’s need for collaboration, cooperation and meetings like the one we’re holding now”, he said.
Nsirim, who is also the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, noted that although the health care professionals through their services have done so much, a lot still needs to be done, especially in the light of the recently identified gaps in the management of suspected COVID-19 positive cases in the State.
This, he noted, is against the accepted protocol of calling the relevant authorities to come a get the suspected case, rather than referring the case to a Teaching Hospital.
“My interaction with health care professionals showed that there was a lot of lack of professionalism in the handling of that matter because it is widely believed that as health care professionals you understand the protocols associated with handling pandemic issues. But we had that gap as a State. We thank God that that information was well managed and we’re where we are.
“The gaps experienced in the handling of this matter poses a lot of question marks on how we should be operating at this point in time”, he said.
The meeting, he explained, is, therefore, to enable the healthcare professionals and the Committee to “rub minds to see how health care professionals will key into the protocol of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the protocol of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“How do we handle patients that present themselves with symptoms of COVID-19? How do we manage the information? How do we respond to them? How do we liaise with the Emergency Operations Centre of the State Government?”
The Inter-ministerial Committee Chairman also used the opportunity to inform the healthcare professionals of the launch of the campaign on the need for people to always wear face masks, especially when they come to their facilities.
According to him, “it’s been believed that wearing a face masks helps to curb the spread of the pandemic. With you here today, we want to launch a campaign on wearing of face mask. We would want you, as healthcare professionals, to not only carry the stickers that we would want you to paste on your premises today, but also ensure that in your interactions with your patients, you make them understand that the wearing of the mask will be compulsory before they come into your facilities. We’re believing as a State that if we imbibe wearing of face mask, we will go a long way to curb the spread of the virus”.
In their various responses, all the organisations emphasised on the need for the collaboration, stating what they have done in their individual organisations as a contribution to check coronavirus spread in the State, and also a combined effort by all the healthcare professional organisations, while also proposing key areas of collaboration with the Inter-ministerial Committee.
Noting that sometimes patients may not believe what each of the health care professionals would say to them, and so would prefer to consult any of the others, Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr Obubelebra Adebiyi, said all the healthcare professionals came together to produce a television jingle.
Dr Adebiyi stated that “one of the major problems we have is that people don’t even believe that COVID-19 is real. The word on the street is that it’s not true. That’s the major problem we’re having”, calling on the Commissioner for Information to use his position to air the television jingle for people to watch and be educated.
She also stated that the NMA had carried out training on COVID-19 prevention involving other healthcare professionals, including patent medicine dealers, to enable them recognise the symptoms and subsequently call the relevant authorities when a suspected case is noticed.
Other healthcare professionals who pledged their readiness on behalf of their organisations, and also made contributions towards a successful fight to prevent COVID-19 spread in the State include the Chairman, Nigeria Optometric Association (NOA), Dr Comfort Nwaneri; Chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), China Ogbu; and Chairman, Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), Dr. Ibituroko George-Opuda.
The highlight of the occasion was the handing over of the stickers on the compulsory wearing of face mask to any public places.