A small team of China medical specialists headed for Nigeria is meeting stiff opposition from Nigerian medical groups who call the visit “an embarrassment” to hard-working doctors in the country.
The visit by the Chinese specialists was announced last Friday by the Nigerian Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire. He said they were coming to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria.
But in a surprising turn of events, the announcement was vigorously rebuffed by Nigerian professionals starting with the Nigerian Union of Journalists whose president, Chris Isiguzo, called it an opportunity for Nigerians to be used as experimental guinea pigs.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) – the premier medical association in Nigeria – joined the journalists in kicking against the government’s plan to bring in Chinese experts.
It’s “a thing of embarrassment to the membership of the Association and other health workers who are giving their best in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic under deplorable working conditions,” they said.
“We are … profoundly dismayed to learn that the Federal Government is … inviting the Chinese who from available accounts are not out of the woods themselves… Even the United Nations has just recently commended the efforts of Nigeria so far,” read the NMA statement published by the Premium Times.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria also advised against the plan, saying Nigeria was already handling the crisis effectively.
Harsher criticism was leveled by Capt. Jerry Ogbonna, Rtd of the ruling party.
“There is always this inferiority complex with white skin people,” he said, referring to the Asian health experts. “Nigerian doctors are some of the best in America and Europe. The ones here are doing very well even in this coronavirus pandemic. What magic does the president think Chinese doctors will perform here?
“It won’t be surprising that the Chinese doctors will be made to be on top of the Nigerian doctors. Please stop these doctors from China until our doctors have failed”.
The criticism forced the government to respond, sending spokesman Dr. Garba Abari, who noted that the government was not inviting the Chinese medical experts to take charge of the fight against COVID-19 but simply to share experiences on how the pandemic was handled in China.
Nigeria currently has 232 cases of Covid-19 of which 33 have recovered and five deaths.
Meanwhile, a contingent of Cuban doctors is expected to join the fight against the coronavirus in South Africa.
The proposed medical team will be in addition to some 200 Cuban doctors already deployed in eight South African provinces except for the Western Cape, which declined to participate in the South Africa-Cuba- medical doctors’ training program.
The doctors have been providing assistance including patient care, medical examinations, transferring of samples and other services to stem the spread of the virus.