COVID-19, like a thief in the night, came unannounced to wreak havoc on global economies while showcasing the various lapses in the global health sector. From Europe to Asia, South America to Africa, countries have recorded huge casualties with Brazil, United States, Italy, Mexico, France and others recording huge deaths. The pandemic, as declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has ravaged first world countries perceived to have functional healthcare systems.
Back home in Nigeria, the case is not different. While some countries have immediately responded to the ravaging pandemic by closing their borders, Nigeria in its usual manner, has been found wanting. There are reported cases of Federal law makers that refused to submit themselves to routine COVID-19 checks at arrival in Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport in Abuja before the lockdown.
COVID-19 has exposed the healthcare system in the country for what many health experts have long suspected- a ticking time bomb. A country that could not attend to health needs of its teaming population, has suddenly found its back against the wall, taking heavy punches from Coronavirus. While the number of confirmed cases are rising at alarming rates every day, the epicenter of the virus in Nigeria, Lagos State, has been complaining of lack of hospital bed, at Isolation Centres. Same for Abuja.
With Lagos and Abuja lamenting, COVID-19 has again brought to light the plight of health workers in the country. From lack of Personal Protective equipment (PPE) to the meagre hazard allowance of N5, 000 (Five Thousand Naira) and not forgetting the lack of comprehensive health insurance package for them, the Coronavirus pandemic has shown that there is an urgent need to fine-tune and invest heavily in Nigeria’s health sector .
Another impact is that Nigeria lacks enough health personnel as recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO). Large number of health practitioners have left the shores of the country for greener pastures where they would be appreciated. The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) and many other health bodies echo these in their National and State annual congresses. The Resident doctors threatened Industrial actions over non-payment of salaries.
What COVID-19 has done is to awaken the eyes of well-meaning Nigerians to the rot in its health sector, the lack of personnel, inadequate funding and maltreatment of health workers. For a serious government, the time might be now, to do the needful and the rightful since COVID-19 has forced the rich, the middle class and the down trodden to seek medical care in Nigeria.