Recent statistics have shown that the Nigeria Testing capacity for the novel Coronavirus is grossly inadequate as compared to countries like Ghana and South Africa testing capacities.
According information obtained from www.worldometers.info, as of Monday morning Nigeria had tested 5,000 people, while 37,954 persons were tested in Ghana and South Africa had tested 80,085 of its citizens.
Health Practitioners in the country advises that Nigeria must step up its testing capacity to successfully battle the spread of COVID-19.
The groups, including the Nigerian Medical Association, the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria and the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, said it was not enough for the federal and state governments to impose lockdown on citizens without ensuring that those who had been infected with the virus were fished out and tested.
The World Health Organisation had, last week said there was an urgent need to increase COVID-19 testing in Africa. It advised that testing must go beyond cities.
When COVID-19 was first recorded in the country on February 27, Nigeria had five centres, where the virus could be tested. The centres were increased to 10 on Friday.
Commenting on Nigeria’s testing capacity, the President of the NANNM, AbdulRauf Adeniji, in an interview with The PUNCH, said COVID-19 had brought to the fore problems in the country’s health sector.
He stated, “The truth is that we are not well-equipped for the virus. Before COVID-19 came to Nigeria, the minister (of health) said we were equipped, but it is clear that our infrastructure cannot handle the testing capacity.
“People can have the virus and will not know it and still mingle with health officials and even their families thereby spreading it. We are playing with the tail of a rattle snake in this country.
“What I am saying is that the number of people, who have coronavirus in Nigeria, is more than the number recorded by government.
“All federal teaching institutions must be able to, by now, test people for it. At least, in each senatorial district, there should be a testing centre.
On his part, the President of the Association of Resident Doctors, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Dr Abbah Ugwu, said the government was not doing enough.
He stated, “We have limited cases because our testing capacity is not enough. We have not tested enough people as in other countries. Government is chasing thousands of people who have had contact with established cases, but I cannot say that the number we have is a true picture of the existence of the virus in Nigeria because we are not testing enough.
“There is gross under-testing of the people so the lockdown is not effective. In other countries, they have started doing house-to-house testing of their people. But it is unfortunate that we are not getting enough information from government concerning the testing capacity we have. Only increase in the number of testing will make the lockdown effective.”
Also, the MDCAN advised the Federal Government to redouble its efforts in the fight against coronavirus in the country. It said testing centres should be decentralised.
The MDCAN President, Prof. Kenneth Ozoilo, who spoke to one of our correspondents in Jos on Sunday, said although state and federal governments were doing a lot to stop the spread of the disease, the anxiety among Nigerians was enough reason to test more people to ascertain their status.
He said that a situation where only those who had symptoms of coronavirus were being tested for the disease leaving the healthy carriers would not solve the problem.
Ozoilo said, “You cannot respond appropriately to coronavirus with the lockdown. It’s true we have low figures in the numbers of recorded deaths and infected persons compared with other countries, but we are not testing enough people considering our population.
“The people who are infecting other people are the healthy carriers of the disease. But what we find in our country is a situation where only people who are already sick as a result of the disease are being tested. That means they would have infected so many people before they become eligible to be tested. That is absurd and wrong. So, we should be testing both the sick people and any other person that has contact with a suspected person even if he does not get sick”
The MDCAN President, who identified testing centres as crucial in the fight against coronavirus, urged the government to decentralise the centres for the benefit of Nigerians.
The President of the NMA, Dr Francis Faduyile, called for increase in the country’s testing capacity for COVID-19.
Faduyile, in an interview with one of The Punch correspondents, said the more cases would be discovered if more tests were carried out.
He said, “There is no doubt that we need to step up our testing capacity. Not doing enough tests means we don’t know the total number of cases we have. We cannot plan appropriately to take care of those who are infected and those who have not been tested and do not know their status. Such people are sources of transmission to the general populace.”
You may recall that the Minister of State for health last week had said that there was a shortage of Medical Laboratory Scientists involved in the diagnosis of COVID-19 in the testing facilities.