By Emem Nkereuwem
We have witnessed the havoc of coronavirus. We have shared the frustrations and fears of world leaders and the diminishing worth of titles and status in the face of this ‘noisome pestilence.’
While mere men fret and surrender in illness, doctors provide the extraordinary professional care and love that inspires healing and regenerates faith in divine mercy. The responsibility of such a task may leave them drained mentally, physically and emotionally, yet they trudge on offering hope even with their bare hands.
Yes, they have to hang on despite the huddles on account of the Hippocratic Oath they swore to uphold. The Oath written over 2500 years ago was intended to be a binding covenant of doctors to uphold the timeless ethics and values of medicine and act in the interest of their patients. Perhaps it is why doctors do not only treat their patients but they also feel both the tragedy of death and the triumphs of saving lives. Therefore the doctor and his patients are the soul of medicine.
While the health of patients is important, sometimes we have often forgotten that doctors are humans too; that despite their mien, they also feel pain, cry and they are also susceptible to death like all mortals.
Doctors despite the pressure of the challenging times and inadequate manpower have always put their patients first above themselves. While other climes may have a more structured health care system, Nigeria is bedevilled with the twain crisis of inadequate health personnel and nearly obsolete infrastructure.
A report credited to the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed puts the ratio of doctor-patient in Nigeria at about 1:3500 (Punch Newspaper online, 23/1/2020). This falls far short of WHO requirement of 1:600 (1 doctor to six hundred patients).
Perhaps these daunting challenges and the speed of the spread of the coronavirus may have heightened the spontaneous outburst of doctors both in Akwa Ibom State and other parts of Nigeria. And they were right. As at 10/4/2020, the global statistics of doctors, pharmacists and nurses who lost their lives to coronavirus stood at more than Two Hundred (200). Aljazeera (9/4/2020) reported that One Hundred (100) Italian doctors died of the highly contagious virus. Heaven knows what the numbers are currently.
Those courageous doctors got infected in the course of battling to save lives. Very often they worked literally with their bare hands as the pandemic had crumbled economies and caused significant shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The fear was palpable and close home. Our doctors were shaken. These fears were genuine.
The population of doctors in Akwa Ibom State including the retired doctors as at April 2020 stands at about Nine Hundred (900). Out of this number, only about Seven Hundred (700) doctors are in active practice. The estimated population of Akwa Ibom State in 2019 was Five Million, Four Hundred and Eighty-TwoThousand, and Two Hundred (5,482,200) persons. (www.citypopulation.de/php/nigeria-admin.php).
And when this number of doctors is juxtaposed with the population, we have an estimated ratio of 1:7,831.43 patients in Akwa Ibom State (i.e. 1 doctor to 7,831.43 patients). Of course, the population of Akwa Ibom would have grown between 2019 and 2020. It is, therefore, logical to aver that if the above statistics is overwhelming in ordinary times, it should be frightening in these Covidic times.
Something had to be done. And urgently too. Akwa Ibom State had recorded five (5) cases. It looked like the worst could happen if the doctors who are the first-line responders in medical emergencies are not adequately kitted in the event of the worst scenario.
Meanwhile, the endless spectre of infection and spiralling deaths across the world added to the absence of these essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It seemed like the world was scrambling for PPE as they had become global essential commodities. And those who needed them had to take the most arduous routes. They had to get them because the lives of the doctors and other first-line responders and their patients depended on these.
Characteristically, Concerned Akwa Ibom Professionals in Lagos (CAKPIL) got in the frontline and donated Eleven Thousand, One Hundred and Ten (11,110) units of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Akwa Ibom State Branch.
Emotions ran high at the NMA Secretariat as the Coordinator of Concerned Akwa Ibom Professionals in Lagos (CAKPIL) Mr. Udom Inoyo praised the NMA for collaborating with Government and other stakeholders to stem the spread of coronavirus in our communities. Mr Udom Inoyo, who was represented by Barrister Edo Ukpong applauded the efforts of the medical personnel for staking their lives to save others.
The Honourable Commissioner for Health Dr Dominic Ukpong on behalf of Governor Udom Emmanuel enumerated the steps the State Government put in place to combat Coronavirus and also commended the efforts by CAKPIL.
Dr Nsikak Nyoyoko, Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association, Akwa Ibom State Branch appreciated CAKPIL for its timely donation and reiterated NMA’s commitment to put all hands on the deck to combat the spread of coronavirus.
For the records, the donations were: surgical face masks (50 packets* 100units), latex gloves (50 pairs *100 units), 3M face masks (20 packets * 25 units), disposable aprons (100 packets * 5 units) and goggles (11 packets *100 units).
Concerned Akwa Ibom Professionals in Lagos (CAKPIL) have again demonstrated its vision to use its resources to partner government to serve our people better. They have demonstrated that the lives of our health personnel are germane to combating COVID 19 in Akwa Ibom State.
Martin Luther King Jr once pondered that “life’s most urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” The poignant to this puzzle is the foundation of service and brotherhood. At a time like this, it is in being in the frontline with our medical generals in the battlefields of COVID 19.
Of course, when the bells of victory over COVID 19 chins within our walls, CAKPIL would be remembered for standing shoulder to shoulder, boot to boot with NMA and Akwa Ibom people to soothe our fears and restore hope through these Covidic times.
This donation on 11/4/2020, the eve of Easter Sunday is symbolic. The sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ represent hope and this is in sync with the Hippocratic Oath of sacrifice that doctors took to save their patients under all circumstances. However, this time they would do so without their bare hands but kitted through the benevolence of Concerned Akwa Ibom Professionals in Lagos (CAKPIL).