By Professor Armstrong J. Davies.
The rampaging scourge, which has now attained the status of a global pandemic called Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), seems to have taken the Nigerian government by surprise. This is appalling, as successive governments in Nigeria had yearly budgeted and released billions of monies for the health sector. The provision of necessary infrastructures such as well equipped hospitals to take care of the immediate and future health needs of its citizenry ought to be a priority to any serious-minded government. The outbreak of pandemics, such as we are experiencing now, would have been easily managed without the usual fire-brigade approach in Nigeria.
It is given this background that I recall that Senator Dino Melaye, an experienced, courageous and eloquent parliamentarian, had previously advocated for the establishment of National Cardiothoracic Centre in all the six (6) geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Dino Melaye, then a member of the Green Chambers, in 2008, moved a pro-Nigerian bill for the immediate establishment of National Cardiothoracic Centre to cater for all ailments relating to cardiac syndrome or symptoms.
This bill, if passed, could address both present and the future outbreak of diseases as it relates to the organs in the throat, bearing in mind that the novel coronavirus, incubates in the throat from where it spreads to other vital organs of the body if not treated. Unfortunately, the bill, after the first reading as crucial as it were, could not proceed beyond that stage.
I had, in my private research, tried to chronicle the various steps, if any, taken by successive governments in Nigeria to address the ever lingering issues concerning the provision of infrastructures in the health sector. I remembered vividly again that the young, vibrant Nigerian lawmaker, in 2015 as a Senator presented the bill he once proposed in 2008, this time, at the Upper Chambers of the Nigerian Senate, urging his colleagues to see the need for the establishment of National Cardiothoracic Centre. The bill remarkably went through first reading in 2015, and it came on board for second reading in 2016. For me, I coined this bill as “a prophetic Bill.”
Had the Nigerian government, and his colleagues in both chambers of the National Assembly listened to Senator Dino Melaye, the federal government would have been able to tackle the Coronavirus scourge with ease, today. It is unimaginable; the immense and innumerable benefits Nigeria would be reaping, had the bill introduced then in 2008, 2015, 2016, by Senator Dino Melaye, been acted upon proactively to allow such establishment to take effect. No doubt, it would have today helped not only her medical health infrastructure but will also empower Nigeria as a country and her people in the treatment and management of the Coronavirus scourge. Nigeria could even assist the neighboring African countries, just as Germany is currently doing in Europe. After all, we are the Giant of Africa. Ghana, with a population of 20million people, already has a second National Cardiothoracic center, with 34 Nigerian cardiologists working there.
On a final note, Corona Virus is zoonotic with a disease symptom of cardiatic ailment. Nigerians and the Nigerian government must begin to appreciate good ideas and learn to execute such in time to forestall the occurrence of a national calamity.