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… Panic in the health sector as cholera claims 816 lives in 22 states, FCT

…NCDC reports 31,425 suspected cases, 311 confirmed cases, 816 deaths as of August 1

… Sack Health Minister, Ehanire, Labour Minister, Ngige, others — NARD President tells FG

… Says since they can’t handle their responsibilities, they should be made to relinquish their positions

AS the nationwide strike embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD enters day nine today, there is panic in the health sector as the cholera epidemic ravaging the country has so far claimed no fewer than 816 lives as of August 1 this year. Epidemiological report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC shows that as of August 1, 2021, a total of 31,425 suspected cholera cases, 311 confirmed cases including 816 deaths have been recorded in 22 States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. The NCDC data showed that the following states – Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Kebbi, Cross River, Nasarawa, Niger, Jigawa, Yobe, Kwara, Adamawa, Enugu, Katsina, Borno and FCT – were affected by the scourge. The report revealed that of all suspected cases, 51 per cent are males and 49 per cent were By Palma Ileye, with Agency Reports females while the reported cases since the beginning of the year had 27 per cent aged 5 to 14 years. The agency explained that a total of 709 samples have been collected with positive cases as follows: 234 rapid diagnostic tests, RDT, positive-only; 77 culture-positive; 311 RDT and culture positive. It also showed that the test positivity rate, TPR, for laboratory confirmation by culture was 25 per cent furthermore revealing that there has been a decrease in the number of new cases in the last two weeks.

Further revelation in the report shows Bauchi- 773, Niger- 183, Katsina -120, and FCT -64 account for 50.9 per cent of 1,941 cases reported in the last two weeks. On what it was doing to curb the spread of the disease and manage cases identified, the NCDC stated that it has begun response activities in states, with response commodities. “There is ongoing surveillance in all states through the routine integrated disease surveillance, IDRS and response and EventBased Surveillance, EBS,” NCDC disclosed. The health agency added that response was being coordinated by the National Multi-Sectoral Emergency Operations Centres hosted at NCDC in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and partners. “Currently, Zamfara, Kaduna, Bauchi, Plateau, FCT, Kano, Enugu, Jigawa, Niger and Sokoto, Katsina State-level EOCs are in response mode. “National Rapid Response Teams with response commodities were deployed by NCDC to support the response in six states – Benue, Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara, Bauchi and Plateau States. “Mop-up OCV campaign was conducted in Bauchi LGA, Bauchi State from 29th to 30th July 2021,” it added.

The NCDC said it has supported testing of samples received from Benue, Niger, Plateau, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Katsina, Enugu, Bayelsa, Adamawa and the FCT at its National Reference Laboratory, NRL, in Abuja. In a related development, the President of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi has called for the immediate sack of the Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the Registrar of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, Tajudeen Sanusi who he accused of being behind the ongoing strike by resident doctors. He said the three officers should be made to relinquish their positions if they cannot handle their responsibilities. It would be recalled that on August 2 this year, resident doctors embarked on a nationwide strike over alleged irregular payment of salaries, hazard allowances among other issues.

However, reacting to the action of the resident doctors, Labour Minister, Chris Ngige threatened that the federal government will invoke the “no-work and no-pay order” against the resident doctors because according to him, the federal government has met their demands. In his reaction to the Labour Minister’s comments, NARD President said the association cannot be bullied by the Minister, adding that those who are the cause of the strike should resign or be sacked. Speaking further, Okhuaihesuyi tackled Ngige for issuing threats of replacement against the resident doctors on national television when their demands raised have not been met.

“If you want to follow the line of no work, no pay, I think you will go and look for 16,000 resident doctors to occupy our place. “I also want to ask Nigerians to ask them and tell them that those who are the cause of the strike that they have not done their work should rather resign or be sacked from the position they hold because if you cannot deliver, you have no responsibility being there”, he stated. Asked who the people that caused the strike are he said “the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour (referring to the ministers), the MDCN registrar, Tajudeen Sanusi, they are the ones to be held responsible for the strike we are on,” he added.

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