by Dr. Ibrahim Musa
According to WHO the main philosophy behind the lockdown during Covid-19 pandemic is to give a system the latitude to ramp up testing, aggressively isolate and manage cases, recruit and train healthcare workforce that can help tackle the pandemic- among other apparent benefits such as slowing down community transmission. Thus, imposing lockdown without achieving the above target amounts to postponing the doomsday. Lockdown is not a magic wand, which left alone “can’t extinguish the virus.” This message must be clear to our leaders.
Unfortunately, at the moment, I am not aware of any testing center in the whole of northern Nigeria (a region that boast of more than 50% of Nigeria’s population), with exception of Abuja (federal capital). Basically, people will stay home (locked) with all the attending mental health effects (anxiety, depression, loneliness, etc) and economic/humanitarian crisis (hunger, deprivation, job loss, etc) for an indefinite period. However, by the time the drastic lockdown is finally relaxed, it might herald a second wave of transmission provided the virus has not been tackled. This is not only problematic but worrisome for a weak system such as ours.
To cushion some of the foreseeable deleterious effects of lockdown, countries are coming up with palliatives through welfare packages. Even the mighty USA is channeling 2 trillion dollars to pay people who are mandated to stay at home. Nigeria is currently topping the list of countries with extreme of poverty in the world. Hence, the implication of this is that most people in Nigeria cannot afford to stay at home without provision of welfare support. This is where the government is missing it so far. And to fast track exiting this dire situation, governments must be seen to visibly tackle the virus by strictly following what WHO prescribed.
Finally, beyond the scare of this pandemic, there is a window of opportunity for countries like Nigeria to invest heavily in their health systems in order to strengthen them. When the chips are down no one is immune. You only have your country’s health system to fall back on.
May we see the end of this pandemic soonest.