The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has vowed that its members would not interact or collaborate with the 15-member Chinese medical team that arrived Nigeria Wednesday.
The team, whose members arrived at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, is in Nigeria to help the country combat COVID-19. The confirmed cases rose by 22 to 276 yesterday.
Five Nigerians have also tested positive for the pandemic in China while a 66-year-old Briton died of the virus in Lagos, bringing to seven the total number of deaths in Nigeria.
The United States also yesterday evacuated another batch of 281 Americans from Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
Meanwhile, following a rash of actions by several state governors on the pandemic, the federal government has advised them and other political leaders to avoid statements that may mislead the people or jeopardise the current efforts to tackle the virus.
NMA President, Dr. Francis Faduyile, speaking exclusively to THISDAY yesterday, said for the physicians to practise in the country, they would have to go through the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), write examinations, and if they are successful, they could practise in the country.
His statement was in spite of the assurance of the federal government that the Chinese medical team would not be practising medicine during their mission, but focusing on installing medical equipment and training Nigerians on their operations, among others.
He said: “There is nothing the Chinese doctors will do that can complement what we are doing. Nigerian doctors have been doing well so far. We have made our position known that we do not need these Chinese here at this time.
“We heard the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said they were going to quarantine them for 14 days before being allowed to support the treatment of persons with COVID-19.
“For them to practise in Nigeria, they should undergo our council examinations, and if they are eventually successful, then they can complement our work. Otherwise, we will have no interaction with them.”
He explained that NMA’s position is in tandem with the protocols Nigerian doctors go through before they are allowed to practise abroad.
He, however, expressed appreciation for the medical supplies brought into the country, saying the items were not easy to come by.
“We have no issues with their supplies. We will not reject their gifts because they are needed. But, Nigeria has the expertise to fight COVID-19,” he said.
NMA had last week rejected the plans by the federal government to bring in the Chinese medical team.
Faduyile had said: “The federal government did not take into consideration the extant laws regulating the practice of medicine in Nigeria as enshrined in the MDCN Act. MDCN was not consulted before granting the necessary approval for foreigners to interact with Nigerian patients.”
Also, NMA Chairman, Lagos State Branch, Dr. Saliyu Oseni, told THISDAY that the body was beginning to suspect that the federal government had a hidden agenda for bringing the doctors into the country.
He added that the health sector had not used up to one per cent of its workforce not to mention being overwhelmed.
He said: “In Lagos, we have not lost any patient in our facilities due to COVID-19. The deaths you are hearing are people who did not come out for treatment. In Lagos, we have 8,000 doctors and 27 general hospitals. We are not overwhelmed in any way, so we are surprised by the government’s insistence that they come here.
“We heard they are coming for one month, and by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) case definition protocol, anyone coming into the country from a high-risk country is meant to be quarantined for 14 days. So, how much longer are they then going to stay in the country?”
He stated that the federal government was also breaking the Nigerian law, noting that foreigners have no jurisdiction to touch any patient in Nigeria even if that patient is their national.