17-man delegation visits Cross River as Ehanire urges NMA to suspend strike
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has called on striking doctors in Cross River State to suspend their indefinite strike.
Members of the Nigerian Medical Association, Cross River State branch, had, on Sunday, embarked on an indefinite strike over alleged failure of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to reflect the five COVID-19 confirmed cases in the state in its daily situation report since July 1, 2020.
Ehanire made the call on Monday during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja , revealing that a delegation had been sent to Cross State to address the problem.
The minister said, “A strong 17-man team of the Federal Ministry of Health, led by the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Development Agency, left Abuja for Calabar this morning to engage with the Cross River State government in setting up their COVID-19 response and align it with the national response.
“Agencies and many departments of the Ministry of Health, like NCDC, hospital services, family health, are represented in the delegation, to ensure the appropriate technical handshake between Federal and state service delivery pillars.
“And also ensure that the disruption of routine medical services, which has been observed in many states, is minimized or eliminated in the state.
“We have also called on the Cross River State NMA to suspend their strike action and receive the ministry’s delegation.
“At the request of the governor of the state, a senior immigration officer is on board to study the border challenges with Cameroon, as well as a port health officer to assess risks posed by sea travelers arriving Cross River State ports particularly from neighboring Central African countries of Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Angola etc.”
All members of NMA Cross State branch in public and private hospitals had on Sunday embarked on a total and indefinite withdrawal of medical services via a letter written to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire over COVID-19 concerns.
Chairman of the association, Dr. Agam Ayuk, had taken the NCDC to task over the alleged withholding of five COVID-19 confirmed cases from the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.
The association had said the test was done at the NCDC accredited molecular laboratory at Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, alleging that the results have not reflected in the daily situation report of the agency after they had been transmitted to UCTH since July 1, 2020.
Other demands of the association in the letter include, explanations from NCDC why epidemiology code numbers have to be generated by Cross River State Ministry of Health before results of samples sent by UCTH to an NCDC approved molecular laboratory could be published by NCDC, despite having approved UCTH as an independent test centre.
The letter reads in part, “The NCDC is put on notice that the Cross River State Government has abdicated her responsibility of contact tracing, treatment and care for the five confirmed cases which may not be unconnected with the delay in publication of the results by NCDC.
“We demand the immediate activation of Adiabo Isolation Centre and commencement of surveillance and contact tracing in the state.
“The members of the association and residents of Cross River State have been put in a precarious public health and safety situation due to the confusion and uncertainty created by the delayed updating of the results by NCDC.”