By Ihechinyere Chigemeri-Uwom
Umuahia, October 19, 2020 The Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, has paid special tribute to the nation’s medical professionals for their courage and uwavering commitment to the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
Abaribe made the commendation at the opening of the 2020 Physicians’ Week organised by the Abia chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Umuahia.
He said that the initial fear that Nigerians would be dying on the streets in the wake of the pandemic was averted through the zeal and commitment of the health professionals.
“I want to congratulate Nigerian medical personnel. You must have found a way of making it this way and this is commendable.
“After the lockdown, we noticed that rather than the pandemic spiking, it was actually coming down,” the lawmaker said.
He described the issues that were thrown up by the pandemic as eye opener, saying that the outbreak helped to put the importance of a sound health system in perspective.
“We know that nobody was taking the health sector very seriously. It is a fact.
“Right now, it has dawned on everybody that health is the first order of business in everything we do,” he further said.
Abaribe described the theme of this year’s event, “Strategies for health system recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria,” as timely.
“It raises the need for the government and stakeholders to take steps towards improving the health system in Nigeria,” the former Deputy Governor of Abia said.
In a speech, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu thanked NMA for its outstanding support during the outbreak and peak period of COVID-19 in the state.
Ikpeazu, who was represented by the Secretary to State Government, Mr Chris Ezem, said that Abia government enjoyed great synergy with medical professionals in managing the COVID-19 situation.
He said that government would continue to provide an enabling environment for health workers in the state to practice their profession.
He called on the people to continue to observe the safety protocols by the relevant authorities until the state and Nigeria had been declared COVID-19-free.
Earlier, Dr Francis Faduyile, the Keynote Speaker, said it was pertinent to evolve strategic policies and programmes for tbe implementation of a sound health system recovery plan.
Faduyile called on the Federal Government to “build a strong primary healthcare system embedded with infection control and patients safety.”
He further advocated community engagement, improvement in the scale of medical supplies, capacity building for health professionals, fortification of emergency response and risk management and accountability.
The Chairman of NMA in Abia, Dr Chimezie Okwuonu, said that COVID-19 stretched the healthcare system all over the world to a breaking point.
Okwuonu said that the pandemic affected every sector of the nation’s economy, adding that it positively helped to bring issues concerning healthcare to the front burner.
He described Nigeria’s response and preparations in tackling the outbreak and spread of the pandemic as sub-optimal.
He therefore canvassed the introduction of a recovery programme plan in the country in order to ensure a more effective response and management of any future outbreaks.