Kano: Rejoicing Or Regretting?

By Bala Ibrahim

Once again Kano is in the news today for two conflicting reasons, with two conflicting headlines: The first is, KANO DISCHARGES THREE CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS, while the second reads, ONE DOCTOR DIES, THIRTY OTHERS INFECTED IN KANO.

The first headline calls for jubilation, as the state is said to have discharged three coronavirus patients, who tested negative for the virus after three weeks of treatment. Indeed this is good news, very good news, because it shows that we are now walking the path of progress.

When a patient leaves the hospital after treatment, he or she goes home with a special feeling of excitement. The excitement is elevated to elation, when the patient no longer need to receive inpatient care, especially from a deadly disease like Covid-19, that is still under investigation.

Much as this may not mean that those discharged are fully healed or recovered from all ailments, as they may still have some medical conditions that need attention and care, the fact that Kano has commenced discharging some patients of the coronavirus, is something worthy of celebration. It means the right steps are being taken towards defeating the disease, and the patients are responding to treatment.

Those discharged have reasons to be happy because with the situation of Kano, their continued stay in the hospital exposes them to the possibility of additional infection, particularly for those that have a weak immune system.

For every patient discharged, a bed becomes available to another person who needs a high level of care. With the situation of Kano today, that is a cause for maximum celebration, and the people of the state have every reason to feel pleased. But the pleasure of this particular headline, is turned inside out by the paradox of the second headline.

The news under the second headline is frightening, as it said, thirty medical doctors across public and private hospitals in Kano have been infected with coronavirus. This is consistent with the saying, one step forward, two steps backward. This even looks like three steps backward.

The sad news was disclosed by the chairman of the state chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr Sanusi Mohammed Bala. Dr. Sanusi said the state had already lost one of the medical doctors to the coronavirus, and some medics are equally affected by the disease.

According to sources, most of the affected medics contracted the virus in medical wards, while attending to unsuspecting patients who came with different complications that later turned to be COVID-19 related. Nothing can be more frightening to a medic, than working under a condition of uncertainty. With an unsettled mind, it is impossible for the medic to give his best to the patient.

In an interview with the Daily trust, the President Association of Resident Doctors AKTH, Dr Abubakar Nagoma Usman blamed the situation on lack of PPE and deliberate withholding of critical information by the patients from the health workers about their health conditions. “This is more than the Lassa fever because some of the patients came without a classical symptom of the disease. Some of them even present no symptoms while sometimes, they will present with other symptoms of different disease but when you get to see them, or when you start managing them, you will realize that they are already positive for COVID-19 disease. By then, it is already late, because they had already exposed themselves. That is why we are calling on all those that have hands in the supply of protective equipment to give us priority, because we are in need of these protective kits to protect ourselves and patients from exposure,”

Kano is today in this mixed grill situation because of poor planning, which has put the medics and members of the task force in greater job hazard. Reports have it that apart from the doctors, about six members of the Kano state task force committee on COVID-19 had also been infected with the virus, and they are currently receiving treatment at isolation centers.

The simple implication of this is that the state is now pushed into another challenge, the challenge of more patients, but less doctors. With more than 400 active cases of the coronavirus in Kano, and about 10 deaths, this is not the time for the state to enter into the state of medical manpower problem.

Kano should hasten to copy Lagos, which as at today, with the discharge of 60 patients, the total number of Coronavirus patients discharged so far, is approaching 400. Lagos was able to achieve such success because of proper planning in the management of the situation, through the provision of equipments and the use of those knowlegeble in handling epidemic and pandemic.

If the right things are done, the headlines would surely change from public apprehension, to public appreciation. And we shall all be happy that Kano is back in the news, for good news.