Doctors Alert on How Looted Vaccines, Drugs May Worsen Health Outcomes

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By Onche Odeh

The wave of protests across the country to prevail on the government to scrap the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force (SARS) snowballed into a looting frenzy that led to the sacking of some medical facilities across the country.

Mobs broke into hospitals and medical stores across the countries carting away drugs, vaccines, storage facilities, and other supplies unhindered.

Weeks after, Nigerian medical doctors are saying that event could be a trigger for some dangerous public health crisis across the country.

Speaking through their umbrella body, The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) they have warned that the destruction of hospital facilities by hoodlums who hijacked the #EndSARS protests may have an irredeemable negative impact on the health of many people and the system.

They have also expressed worries that improper handling of the drugs and vaccines stolen by the looters may have long-lasting effects not only on human beings but also on the environment.

In a statement jointly signed by the NMA President, Dr. Innocent Ujah, and Secretary-General, Dr. Philips Uche Ekpe, the body said, the body said, “The unfortunate action of the hoodlums will further weaken the delivery of health services as Nigeria continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in an already near-comatose health system and will certainly be a setback on our country’s desire to achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Consequently, the doctors have asked those who have medicament and hospital equipment in their custody to return them either to be used or destroyed professionally because some of the medicament can be very harmful to the human body.

According to them, vaccines that were carted away by hoodlums are meant to prevent diseases which may lead to the resurgence of vaccine-preventable childhood diseases.

“NMA feels very embarrassed and disappointed that health workers, facilities and equipment were not secured nor protected by Security Agencies to forestall the monumental nationwide looting and vandalism of government and private properties,” the doctors said.

“We therefore, urge all those in custody of these vaccines to return them to the health facilities for revalidation for possible use. No form of attacks on any health facility and hospital personnel is tolerated in any civilized country.”

The NMA expressed shock at the magnitude of the reported looting and vandalism of health facilities, hospital equipment, vaccines, drugs and consumables as well as assaults on its members, who were in the line of duty in Lagos, Ebonyi, Delta, Edo, Cross River, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Ekiti States.

 

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