By Yushau A. Shuaib
The controversy over the arrival of Chinese medical experts in Nigeria is needless, going by an official statement from China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (‘CCECC’), which sponsored the trip of the medical personnel and the supplies being brought into the country.
The Managing Director of CCECC, Michael Jiang said the medical team is not coming to Nigeria to treat any COVID-19 patient but is only escorting the medical supplies to the country, and would be on hand to provide guidance for their usage and distribution. The supplies being donated to Nigeria include test kits, ventilators, disinfection machines, disposable medical masks, medicines, rubber gloves, protective gowns, goggles, face shields, infra-red thermometers and other critical care items. (https://cutt.ly/ccecc)
On the day the Chinese medical team arrived in the country late in the evening of Wednesday April 8, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had announced then that the total number of coronavirus infection cases in the country was 276, with 44 of these having been treated and discharged, while quite unfortunately six of those who contracted the disease had died. (https://cutt.ly/ncdc)
The rate of recovery of coronavirus disease patients in Nigeria is quite encouraging. In fact, a number of high-profile personalities who had tested positive to the infection have since recovered and been given a clean slate of health within a short period of time. They include Governors Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
While a conspiracy of silence subsisted on effective remedies for the coronavirus infection and disease, Governor Makinde of Oyo State revealed that he had fought the infection with carrots, vitamin C, black seed oil with honey and made vigorous efforts to boost his immunity, whilst regularly exercising when in isolation. (https://cutt.ly/makinde).
Meanwhile, a Nigerian professor of Pharmacognosy and Chairman of the Imo State Taskforce on COVID-19, Professor Maurice Iwu has laid claims to the creation of a plant-based and already patented drug for the treatment of the dreaded coronavirus, which he said is presently going through clinical trials in the United States of America. This, he had disclosed to Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu during a recent visit. (https://cutt.ly/iwu)
Still, there have been cheerful news around the world about breakthrough medicines and remedies that are tackling the menace of coronavirus to great degrees of efficacy. After President Donald Trump of the United States of America had nudged at the use of Chloroquine therapy in curing the virus, a new controlled clinical study conducted by doctors in France has shown that a combination of Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin (Z-Pak) completely cures coronavirus patients within six days of treatment. In fact, the healing of 80 additional patients has confirmed the effectiveness of this new line of therapy, as advanced by the French researchers. (https://cutt.ly/chloro)
In a similar development, another wonder drug, Tocilizumab, is reputed to have cured 90 per cent of those it was administered on, in a groundbreaking trial on severe and critical COVID-19 patients in two separate hospitals in the eastern province of Anhui in China. Tocilizumab, otherwise known as Actemra and produced by the Swiss pharmaceutical firm, Roche, is typically used to combat arthritis. (https://cutt.ly/actemra)
Another report claims that Chinese doctors gave the medication to 20 patients during the peak of the epidemic in China.. Of this number, nineteen of them were discharged within 14 days, despite having earlier been critically ill. The drug has now been approved for use in China and for trials in the U.S. (https://cutt.ly/trials)
While I strongly believe that this period of anxiety and fear over the coronavirus disease pandemic would soon be over, there are many people – young and elderly, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, powerful and less powerful – who are greatly disturbed psychologically in this period, and who have no one to give them words of encouragement and hope.
It is unfortunate that some traditional and religious leaders have been aggravating the anxiety of their followers by giving them misleading information and raising false hopes in them, at a time when fact-based approaches are essential to tackling the coronavirus scourge.
It is however reassuring to note that a number of major religious bodies in Nigeria have aligned their messages to the faithful with medical advice. The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), for instance, have asked their followers to obey the directives of governments and take all precautionary measures issued by the authorities on coronavirus. They have cautioned Muslims and Christians against convening or attending religious activities, while observing social distancing when they experience symptoms of coronavirus such as respiratory distress, fever, cough, and shortness of breath, etc. (https://cutt.ly/religions)
At this period of global anxiety, confusion and a near state of hopelessness due to overwhelming and disturbing news about the coronavirus infection and disease, we should encourage our loved ones in coping with the attendant stress. According to experts, excessive thinking about the pandemic can worsen mental health conditions. It is, therefore, necessary to always take breaks from the preponderance of alarming information, disturbing news and activities on the traditional and social media. We need to cultivate a more positive mindset, fostered by healthy diets, regular exercise and taking enough rest in this difficult period. When disturbed, it is advisable that we talk to people we feel comfortable with and trust, in expressing our fears and concerns.
The manageable levels of the pandemic, within the limits of our health care system in Nigeria, needs to be sustained through rigorous campaigns on social distancing and the adoption of appropriate hygienic lifestyles.
Yushau A. Shuaib
Author of Award-Winning Crisis Communication Strategies