An international humanitarian medical organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders says it would continue to assist the Borno State government in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state governor, Babagana Zulum, on Thursday, set up a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the state’s index case, an MSF employee.
The committee is to “determine whether the person’s nature of work with the international NGO in Pulka, Gwoza, had, in any way, been a factor in contracting the virus.”
In its statement released on Friday and obtained by HumAngle, the international NGO said it will contribute all necessary information to the investigation.
It also said when COVID-19 was announced in Nigeria, the organization reinforced its infection prevention measures across Nigeria.
MSF said it is collaborating with state health ministries and is following regulations of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“In line with emergency preparedness protocols, all medical staff have been trained in accordance with NCDC protocols, facilities have been upgraded with isolation units and health promotion messages, following NCDC protocols have been widely shared with local communities,” it said.
MSF has been providing free medical care in Borno State, which has for over a decade been the hotbed of insurgency, since 2016.
In 2019 alone, it admitted up to 48,000 patients to its emergency rooms in the state.
“In collaboration and agreement with the Nigerian Government, MSF has also responded to various health crises over the years, including cholera, measles, malnutrition and malaria.
“Our priority remains to ensure that patients are treated in a safe and healthy environment and to honour our commitment of providing free and essential life-saving care to the population of Borno State.
“MSF will continue with this commitment, guided by medical ethics, as we are in all the locations where we work, and as we have been since MSF began almost 50 years ago,” the organization stated.
From only three confirmed cases as of April 23, Borno State now has 65 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, the fifth highest in the country.
It also has the second-highest death toll of six people, according to statistics from the NCDC.
During the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Thursday, NCDC Director-General Chikwe Ihekweazu disclosed that the fight against the pandemic is threatened by a lack of adequate bed spaces across the country and said this might lead to a change in approach.
”Concerning the availability of bed spaces for the management of patients, there is no doubt that we are struggling in certain places especially in Lagos State, and to an extent Kano and Abuja.
“But the biggest challenge right now is in Lagos where bed spaces are really tight.
“Across the country, we have about 3,500-bed spaces identified as available for coronavirus but in Lagos, we are already struggling,” he said.
The minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, also at the press briefing, specifically called on Nigerians and organizations with properties to offer them for use in treating COVID-19 patients.
“Bed spaces and isolation centres at the state level need to match the increase and necessitates an appeal to all citizens, especially property and hotel owners, to recognize the imminent needs and the social responsibility of working with state governments to make facilities available for temporary use in emergency situations.
“It is of concern to us all that everything should not be left to the government alone. We must all take collective ownership of the health and wellbeing of our citizens,” Dr. Ehanire said.