A PASSIONATE PLEA TO AVOID THE DEATH OF MILLIONS IN NIGERIA & AFRICA
The number of reported infections is on the rise, and number currently stands at less than 600 as at today 19THApril, 2020. And this number is steadily increasing. While most states are still able to contain the virus, the real danger is when the number rises above the number of capacity of our healthcare system can handle. The disaster would start when a state like Lagos can no longer accommodate more patients in its treatment facilities that is designed to handle only few hundreds. Lagos up until now has been able to record a high cure rate for the virus because the healthcare professionals can give quality attention to each case without pressure and without the need of ventilators. What happens when Lagos is suddenly swarmed with thousands of cases, and other states of the federation begging to send their sick to Lagos for treatment? This would be the real disaster, and sadly the number of dead would start piling up. Many countries that have been able to keep the number of deaths down have been able to do so because their health system was not overwhelmed and the doctors had the time, equipment and machines to treat each patient carefully, hence curing them. The corona virus is a disease that could be cured when the healthcare system is not overwhelmed. An example of such country is Korea. In countries with high death rates like America, Italy, Spain and UK all have one thing in common: overwhelmed healthcare system and lack of sufficient medical tools to treat patients. Doctors in these countries have had to decide which patient would stay on ventilator and which one dies, because the system was not ready for such surge in number of cases.
Another worrying thing is the attitude of some Nigerians towards the imposed locked down by the government. Some Nigeria mostly amongst the lower class do not respect the social distancing rules, and do not follow the precautionary steps. These people often live in crowed slums and neighbourhoods where diseases spread easily. This is a perfect recipe for disaster. If you look closely at countries in the west with high death rates, you can see that 50% of the dead are from poor disadvantaged neighbourhoods, and this presents a lesson for Nigeria. It only takes one infected person to infect a slum in Nigeria. It could be a cleaner working in one of the isolation centres in Lagos who may contract the virus at work, and then brings it to her slum community. This person could then infect the whole slum of thousands of people. We pray God Almighty would not let his happen in Nigeria or Africa as a whole. But, to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail; and heaven only helps those who help themselves.
With all these said, the situation is not entirely bad and there might be a way to avoid this impending disaster. There are couple of things we could do as a nation to mitigate the effects of the potential disaster. One of them is to make wearing of masks compulsory in all public or crowded places all over Nigeria. Secondly, organizes local mask sewing cooperative in all the local councils across the states of the federation with volunteer tailors and people with sewing skills can join to make millions of masks and protective suits for doctors every week. These volunteers can bring their own sewing machines to places like mosques, churches and event centres to make cotton masks from cotton materials, and protective suits from plastic fabric sourced from the local fabric markets. Instructions for making these masks are available all over the internet for people to learn from. Individuals who don’t want to join these public cooperatives can make these masks at home and deliver them to these cooperatives after completion. These masks and protective suits can in turn be given free to hospitals, healthcare workers, and vulnerable old people and to people who can’t afford to buy masks. The third thing that can be done to mitigate the effects of the impending disaster is to embark on a massive drive to manufacture disinfectant alcohol and hand sanitizing solvents across all the states of the federation. The breweries making beers and whiskies can be repurposed to make disinfecting alcohols for hospitals and hand sanitizers to save lives. This would ensure the citizens and hospitals never run short of tools to kills the virus. Universities and Higher institutions of learning with departments of chemistry and sciences can also be mandated to produce hand sanitizers and solvents that can used to kill the virus. The fourth thing we can do is to instruct the all the Universities in Nigeria to gather their most brilliant students, researchers and professors to design and fabricate respirators; and test kits from local resources for the hospitals in their respective states. The fifth thing to do is to embark on regular massive clean-up operation of public places such as motor parks, markets, public toilets, and schools. These clean-up operation should cover every nook and crannies of each street across each local government areas. These cleaning crew should consist of volunteer youths who would be provided with cleaning tools and equipment plus protective masks and gloves. The sixth and final step we can take to reduce the impact of this pandemic is to urge people above the age of 60 years of age and people with underlying diseases like tuberculosis, and cancer to stay at home in order to avoid contracting the virus. If all these steps are put in place, Nigeria might just have a chance to stop the virus in its track. But failure to do anything or continuing with the status quo is simply suicidal. The six suggestions are summarized here as follows:
1-Make wearing masks compulsory
2-Organize local mask making cooperatives in all local government areas
3-Organize mass alcohol manufacturing in breweries, universities and industries across major cities
4-Universties to start designing and fabricating test kits and respirators from local materials
5-Massive city clean-up operations
6-Old people above 60 and people with underlying conditions to remain at home
It’s time to stick together to defeat our common enemy. It’s either we fight this battle together or we die together. We can no longer act ignorant and wait for China, WHO and Bill Gates to donate masks and protective equipment for our people. We are smart sons and daughters of mother Africa born with the wisdom to take care of ourselves. We can manufacture the things we need to save the lives of our own people. Other nations are already climbing over this mountain of hell, and are beginning to see the ray of hope. Nigeria is still at the beginning of the curve, and we can pull our efforts together to stop this pandemic before it gets out of hand, and Africa again becomes a laughing stock and source of shame to its people. Remember the Ebola crisis? Africa suffered alone, and we became leprous and no nation wanted to let us into their borders. Shall we allow Africa be left behind in disease once again while other nations move on to prosperity? Shall we let our greed, lack of unity, and self-centeredness again make us the laughing stock of the world? The world is already projecting in our miseries in their statistical analysis, and wishing us ill at every corner. Some say tens of millions would die in Africa, some predicted bodies would lay in every street corner. Can we please prove them wrong for once in our centuries of existence? Can we show the world that Africa is more than diseases, poverty, conflicts and death?