Friday, 27 March 2020

COVID-19: Betta, commissioner of health under fire from C'Riverians for missinformation

Ukorebi Esien | 27 March 2020 

A Cross Riverian resident in Abuja, Mr. Simon Utsu has called on the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu to come out clean on information relating to the state's preparedness to combat any eventual outbreak of Coronavirus in the state. 

Ustu, a social commentator and political Analysist made this known via an open article to the Commissioner for Health. He lamented the poor level of preparations by the state especially in the area of trained and equipped man power with specific reference to Doctors. 

Ustu who suggested the state employ new doctors to the tune of 200, said he is reliably informed that the state currently has less than 2 doctors per local government areas of the state. 

Ustu's article reads in full: 


I've just reached out to one of the doctors who calls the shots in my state; a childhood friend and he gave me raw facts that got me disappointed with how the health sector is being run in the state. I know the commissioner of health is under lots of pressure(most of it self inflicted due to her media antics) but I'll crave her indulgence- to kindly allow me add a little more to that pressure. To start with, let me downgrade my yesterday's "Very good" rating I gave her, to "Fair" as a result of these fresh, grapevine facts at hand. In other words, you're doing fairly well. 

My doctor friend explained to me that the Federal government is responsible for tertiary healthcare in the various states whilst the state government is responsible for primary & secondary healthcare. What that means is, the primary healthcare centres in the 18 LGAs, & the secondary which are the General hospitals (one of which was recently renovated by the health commissioner) & a number of other hospitals, are under the state government's custody.

 And he categorically told me that ONLY 33 doctors(less than 2 per lga) are employed by the Cross River state government- a fact Dr Betta Edu tried to debunk yesterday or so. And this number is the least in any state in Nigeria; no other state has less than 150 medical doctors on her payroll. 

This is shocking! Apart from the health commissioner, the wife of the governor is a medical doctor- the latter alone should inspire Ayade to take the health sector very seriously. Governor Ayade should put a halt to the indiscriminate political appointments he's making and employ at least 200 doctors.

 My source also told me that contrary to commissioner Betta's claims that five ventilators are on standby(which she has refused to show us) for the state's COVID-19 isolation centre, the only ventilators he's aware of, are the couple available at the UCTH(a Federal facility) and which are used during critical surgeries.

 Like I said yesterday, now isn't the time for hype or for misinformation. Dr Betta should feed us with the right facts and figures and also get her boss the Governor, to do that which needs to be done to bring the local health sector out of coma.

In a related event, Agba Jalingo, publisher of Cross River Watch had also accused the state commissioner of falsifying information as regards the number of ventilators the state has. In a social media post titled. "COVID 19: We Don't Need Embellished Facts From Cross River Health Ministry", Jalingo said, "Our state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, manufactures a "fake" photograph to deliberately deceive Cross Riverians that there is a ventilator in the state isolation center, when there is none and we are expected to keep quiet?"

On her part the State Commissioner for Health Dr. Betta Edu had debunked the claims, during the state's monthly Ministerial Press Briefing as put together by the Cross River State Ministry of Information and Orientation.

Dr. Betta revealed that the state Government presently supports two isolation centres in the state, one at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar while the second one at General Hospital Ogoja. 

Explaining that if the need arises for mor isolation centers the government will convert one its guest houses with over 200 rooms as a center 

Dr. Edu went ahead to disclose that there are currently five Ventilators in the state at the disposal of the team. While two are currently in the emergency unit of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, two are in some where else and one needs to be fixed before the week runs out, adding that more Ventilators will be added soon. 

She called on the attention of social media influencers to know that the ventilators have not been put in the isolation centres for now. Right now there is not even a suspected case of Covid -19 in the state therefore the ventilators will be taken there when needed. 

She went further to say that it is absolutely falsehood that the state has only 33 doctors. Betta who said Cross Riverians should stop peddling rumors, disclosed that they are many doctors in the state in the region of one thossnd and more. "Let's not be gullible but let's seek the right source of information and practice personal hygiene and by God's grace Cross River State would not record any case of COVID-19." She advised. 

Contuing, Betta said "The State has not gotten any support from any external source for now, The Government of His Excellency Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade has been the one funding the health ministry since Coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Edu commended the Governor for his commitment to health amidst the very little resources available to the state. 

"Our top priority is the health of Cross Riverians, and we will do all we can to keep our state safe. I will advise that our social media "friends" spend their data educating the public and sending the message of prevention around, health is everyone's business, while she thanked Cross Riverians for the support " she concluded.