SOLUTION FOR THE PANDEMIC MANAGEMENT IN NIGERIA BY DR CHARLES OMOLE
The trajectory of this pandemic in different nations offer lessons for Nigeria in a way that allows us to own our solution in a bespoke way. South Korea has the pandemic under control without imposing any national lockdown.
They did this through mass testing, aggressive contact tracing and isolation of suspected victims. And it worked wonderfully for them. Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong achieved elements of control over this virus by mass testing and insistence on citizens wearing face masks.
So in Nigeria; the govt need to examine these success stories and become creative in fashioning a distinctively local solution.
If the spread goes nationwide; a National Lockdown will be impossible to police & will be catastrophic for the millions of very poor fellow citizens and will devastate irreparably our fragile economy.
Mass wearing of mask when outside your home works because a lot of infected people are asymptomatic. So it is easier for such people to spread the virus without even Knowing.
There are no easy decisions on this matter; but a fixation with total lockdown must be avoided. It is a blunt instrument and that medicine will definitely kill more patients (through hunger) than the original virus itself. Total lockdown is not sustainable and will kill citizens.
Moreso; Nigeria does not have the financial resources to mitigate a total nationwide lockdown for the many poor and vulnerable citizens.
So what can the government do? My few suggestions (not an exhaustive list) are follows:
1. Simply pulling together the limited Human Resources within govt will not cut it. Like other nations; the govt should create a team that include leading minds from the private sector to form a Pandemic Management Panel. Having separate panels for different elements is not efficient and does not promote joined up working.
So the panels headed by the SFG and the VP should be merged. There can then be sub committees. A unified structure is better at dealing with such pandemic than fragmented entities.
This way cause and effect can be considered under one roof. And collateral impacts and consequences can be better captured.
2. The FG should declare a Nationwide Curfew from 8pm to 5am. This will allow resources to be focused on daytime monitoring and tracing activities.
This will avoid a total lockdown thus allowing d economy to breath a little in the meantime. Offices should function on reduced opening hours to allow staff get back home in good time. This will also allow those who rely on daily income to make some money thus reducing mass hunger.
3. The govt should source face masks and distribute freely and widely nationwide. If it is free, most Nigerians will comply and use it.
4. Mass testing facilities should be opened nationwide. Each LG office or health centres can become a testing centre. This will cover the nation in 1 swoop. There should be protocols developed for this.
5. A robust contact tracing should be implemented. This should not just be about force but effective information campaign that encourage voluntary coming forward of citizens who have been in announced hotspots.
6. With partial closure as suggested; the government spending on palliatives will be less than in total lockdown. This savings can be used for more effective tracing, supply of face masks, and provisioning of isolation centres.
7. A daily debrief by this unified panel should be established. This will allow credible information sharing and reduce rumours and conspiracy theories to the nearest minimum.
This is a global emergency. And there will untimely be a global solution we can piggyback on.
8. The govt should leverage the goodwill amongst Nigerians by creating opportunities for the army of citizens volunteering daily to help with this pandemic.
There are ways these volunteers can be used to save government spending and saturate the nation with credible information.
So our focus should be minimising spread and managing impact on citizens and the economy.
But the government have to change its approach and widen the human resource pool away from just politicians and appointees to experts within the private sector who are better placed to act with agility and speed needed to protect our people and the Nigerian fragile economy.
The government has started well, but it’s now time for a ramped up response to combat this pandemic. God will help us, but we also must help ourselves.
This insight on pandemic management in Nigeria was provided by: