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“Not all 15 are doctors, they are not really our guests,” says Health Minister on whereabout of Chinese doctors
THE Minister of health on Thursday during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) daily briefing on COVID-19 has said he is unaware of the whereabouts of the Chinese doctors and health professionals who were brought to Nigeria last month to help the country in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the daily briefing in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, wondered why Nigerians were so much interested in knowing the whereabouts of the Chinese health professionals and advised journalists not to ask him the question again.
Controversy has earlier trailed the choice of the Federal Government to invite the Chinese doctors to Nigeria, as many groups and associations, including the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), kicked against it.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) then described the move of inviting the Chinese as “a thing of embarrassment to the membership of the Association and other health workers who are giving their best in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic under deplorable working conditions.”
The federal government then defended the invitation and appealed to Nigerians to accept the decision.
But in what seems to be a total reversal of argument, the Minister of Health, on Thursday, said that the ministry was not their host and does not know their whereabouts, adding that the ministry cannot explain “because they are not really our guests.”
He said the visitors were staff of the CCECC as many of them are technicians.
“There seems to be a lot of interest in these doctors, but they are staff of a company and I think they are on the company visa. So, I will be very happy if you don’t ask me about where they are because they are not really our guests in that sense.”
However, the minister said, “We have been able to learn some things from them by interacting with them from their experience in their country. They did tell us, and we shared ideas about what they did in their country, how they are managing COVID-19.”
The team of Chinese medical experts arrived in Abuja on April 8, with medical equipment and supplies valued at US$1.5 million, donated by the Chinese government.
During a press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus after their arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Ehanire said that Chinese public health experts, not doctors, were being sent to help Nigeria. Their purpose was to strengthen the public health capacity and advise on processes and procedures.