COVID-19: PTF appeals to Resident Doctors to call off strike

Rahila Lassa, Abuja

Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the PTF Chairman Mr Boss Mustapha

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has appealed to the Association of Resident Doctors in Nigeria to reconsider its decision and call off the ongoing strike action.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Boss Mustapha made the appeal at the daily joint media briefing in Abuja, Nigeria.

According to the PTF Chairman, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Nigeria is committed to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the health-care system in the country.

“I am appealing to the Association of Resident Doctors to consider their decision and return to work. This isn’t the right time for this. Not at a time when the healthcare system is overburdened and needs more hands,” he said

While giving a midterm review on the activities of the PTF on COVID-19 since it’s inauguration three months ago, the SGF said the PTF consistently pursued a National Response that was guided by science, data and global experiences that placed a high premium on Nigeria’s local peculiarities.

“The importance of this approach is further underscored by Mr. President’s call during yesterday’s Extra-ordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against the COVID-19 (Video Conferencing), when he called for knowledge sharing as a fundamental aspect of dealing with this pandemic, globally.”

“Like the rest of the world, our National Response continues to face challenges, especially as there is no known cure for the virus, presently. These include inadequate infrastructure, manpower shortage, global shortage of essential items (test kits, PPE), strain on the economy which has compelled the need to balance between lives and livelihoods,” he noted.

He, however, said that the greatest challenges are human resistance to change amongst others. “Stigmatization, mental health, scepticism, culture, religious belief, rising incidents of domestic violence and a host of others … COVID-19 has changed our ways of life and we may never go back to what we used to know,” he explained.

The SGF further called on indigenous researchers and scientists to rise up to the occasion by submitting to the validation processes.

“As we push the frontiers of research at domestic and international levels, the debate on which drugs will be clinically suitable also continues. With our reliance on data and science, we eagerly look towards crossing the threshold of experiments into a world of cure. The PTF’s position is that every treatment regime must be supported by incontrovertible scientific evidence,” the PTF Chairman said.

Mr. Boss Mustapha added that the journey ahead was more important than the last three months.

“As you are aware, the main focus is on community engagement and risk communication while not neglecting the need to obey all the guidelines and non-pharmaceutical measures. We, therefore, crave your buy-in so that we can collectively become champions in the efforts to wipe out the virus.” 

“As we go forward, therefore, let us look forward to another three months of overwhelming successes, let us create awareness and sensitization, stop stigmatization of survivors and let’s encourage fellow citizens that have contracted the virus to enable them overcome the illness.”

“Our choice of words matter. Our attitude and reactions to them help to boost the stability of their mental health.  All combined will help our efforts to test, detect, trace, isolate and treat,” he added.

The PTF also expressed its appreciation to its diverse stakeholders for their support and commitment to the cause of humanity which include the health workers, security agencies, State Governments, the private sector, traditional and religious leaders, the international community, professional bodies and public-spirited Nigerians.