Opinion: COVID-19: What if Chinese doctors assist Nigeria? By Lawal Sale Maida

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COVID-19: What if Chinese doctors assist Nigeria? By Lawal Sale Maida
COVID-19: What if Chinese doctors assist Nigeria? By Lawal Sale Maida

Controversy is raging over the announcement by Nigeria’s minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire that an 18-man team of Chinese doctors and nurses will arrive the country to assist in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the technical team, items such as personal protection equipment (PPE) and ventilators are also expected to arrive from China as assistance to Nigerian government in collaboration with Chinese community living and working in Nigeria.

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In as much that such gesture is not new between countries during emergencies, there are already some apprehensions in some quarters against the gesture largely due to misinformation in both conventional and social media regarding the Chinese intervention.

Nigeria is among about 80 countries selected by the Chinese authorities as beneficiaries of medical assistance in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, Chinese billionaire and Chief Executive of Alibaba, Jack Ma also delivered some medical items and protective gears to the Nigerian government as part of his personal contribution to humanity in fight against COVID-19. China itself was assisted by some countries during its fight against the dreaded scourge.

In time of emergency, countries need each other; it is for that reason in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak in most parts of West Africa that China became one of the first among countries to offer assistance, until when the disease was defeated. At that time, China supplied resources including medical experts and scientists as well as medical supplies.

According to one of the Chinese healthcare providers that participated in the exercise in Sierra Leone Mr. Hongzhou Lu, the major work done by the Chinese experts to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone included regular training of the local healthcare providers, attending meetings of WHO experts and visiting treatment centres. This he said helped in establishing rules and protocols for fighting the cross-border spread of the disease and also prepare medical facilities to admit Ebola patients or those suspected of having the disease.

In fact, there is no time the Chinese are needed better than now; this is because they were the first victims of COVID-19. The entire world witnessed their suffering, the devastation and loss of lives. The world was also a witness to their battle against the disease in the frontline until they finally muscled the scourge out.

Global pandemic requires global response. This is the way a scourge can be defeated. WHO also encourages global collaboration.

It is worthy to observe that this gesture to Nigeria is not unusual; this is because in recent times the world has witnessed various exchanges of medical personnel, equipment and gears between countries in an effort to defeat the ravaging common enemy that is threatening humanity.

The media reported how Russia sent medical assistance to Serbia, Cuba sent doctors to Italy, Ukraine sent doctors to Italy, United states assisted Ukraine with cash, UAE assisted Pakistan with medical equipment etc. – these are all part of global response and camaraderie to help each other in time of need.

That China is sending an 18-man team should not be strange and controversial.

The world is a global village and people should not be swayed by negativity and anger towards each other; as the coming of the Chinese may not be different from similar interventions by other countries.

In fact, there is no time the Chinese are needed better than now; this is because they were the first victims of COVID-19. The entire world witnessed their suffering, the devastation and loss of lives. The world was also a witness to their battle against the disease in the frontline until they finally muscled the scourge out.

The expertise, courage and determination by the Chinese to defeat the pandemic is an attestation they have the expertise to assist others in fight against the disease. Already, China is supplying many countries with masks, ventilators and medical experts.

As the controversy rages, the Director General of Nigeria’s National Orientation Agency, Garba Abari in a radio programme cleared the air on the claims by some Nigerians that Nigerian authorities are “importing” Chinese doctors to directly take charge of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

He explained that the 18 man medical team would be in Nigeria for the purpose of sharing their experience on how the pandemic was handled in China.

“Whatever medical team made available to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will be applied to address the peculiar challenges of the country on handling COVID-19 pandemic”.

Similarly, the chairman House Committee on Foreign affairs in the House of Representatives, Yusuf Buba Yakub in a statement called on Nigerians to take into consideration the bilateral relations, friendship and cooperation agreement between Nigeria and other nations of the world, including international conventions and protocols that bind our nation with other countries across the globe.

The chairman further frowned at some pieces of information being shared by Nigerians without regard to their veracity or otherwise. He added that such actions contribute to spreading falsehood, misinformation, panic and anxiety amongst Nigerians.

*Lawal Sale Maida is a Global Affairs Analyst writes from Abuja. (lawalmaida1@yahoo.com)

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