COVID - 19 : Learn From China, Cuba, ASUU tells FG - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

COVID - 19 : Learn From China, Cuba, ASUU tells FG

... Says With Political will, Coronavirus Vaccine Can Come Out Of Nigeria 

... Donates 1000 ASUU - made hand sanitizers to Ogun govt


Godwin Akomah, Lagos

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Wednesday urged Nigerian government to muster enough political will and learn from the rapid response of China and Cuba to the COVID - 19 pandemic by investing adequately in university education in the country.

ASUU said  China leveraged much on stock of trained scientists, engineers, medics and paramedics on which the country had invested through qualitative university education over time to bring the  Coronavirus spread to a stand still and defeated the evil virus.

ASUU National President,  Dr. Biodun Ogunyemi, gave the advice at Oke - Mosan Governor's Office, Abeokuta, Ogun State, while donating 1000 pieces of bottled hand sanitizers to the Ogun State Government.

The sanitizers produced by the ASUU Lagos Zone (comprising Lagos and Ogun) members were received on behalf of the state government by the Deputy Governor, Engr. Noimot Salako - Oyedele

Ogunyemi was accompanied by Prof. Siji Sowande, Coordinator, Lagos Zone, Com.Joel Okewale(ASUU Chair, OOU), Com. Adebayo Oni(ASUU Chair, FUNAAB, Com. Dele Ashiru(ASUU Chair, Unilag) Dr. Olatunji Ettu(ASUU Chair, TASUED) Com. Odunlami Tunde (OOU) and Com. Isaac Oyewunmi (ASUU Chair, LASU).

Ogunyemi recalled that even a tiny island country like Cuba also did not have to look elsewhere in responding to the threat of coronavirus because of its record of massive investment in medical education, stressing that Nigeria should  consider China and Cuba effectiveness in tackling the pandemic and travel the same path by investing in education and research.

According to him, at the peak of the COVID-19 onslaught, Cuban doctors were even invited to assist one or two European countries to address the pandemic.

ASUU President also said that a Vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic could be found and developed in Nigeria if the nation's leaders showed the political will to sufficiently empower Nigerian biomedical scientists, behavioural scientists and others Nigerian scholars to undertake cutting edge research into the deadly disease.

He added that a major lesson Nigeria stands to learn from the pandemic ravaging nations around the world was that investment in education yields immeasurable dividends, explaining that public education and public health were inseparable. 

He noted that conscious and determined investment in university education at national and sub-national levels would give the  country quality medical scientists, behavioural scientists, creative scholars and other creams of informed citizens who can respond intelligently to challenges like the one COVID-19 pandemic posed to mankind.  

He explained that the donation followed the directive by the National body of ASUU to all its 70 branches and 13 zones to play active role in the fight against the spread of the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.

According to him, the branches and zones have been involved in the production, presentation and distribution of information, education and communication (IEC) materials, hand sanitizers, facilities for handwashing, among others in not less than 20 States of the federation. 

The ASUU President added that its  medical and paramedical members were equally involved in providing frontline services at the isolation centres within and outside teaching hospitals nationwide.

He disclosed that ASUU decided to free members to participate in COVID-19 control efforts, in spite of the  ongoing nationwide strike action, to demonstrate the body's  concern for the health and wellbeing of Nigerians. 

He, however, pointed out that the Union would not subscribe to arm-twisting of members by the Federal Government for enlistment in the widely condemned Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) through the submission of their Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs).
    
He said: "The COVID-19 pandemic poses a real threat to our collective survival. It is a threat which calls to test our sense of common humanity. As at Tuesday, 21st April 2020, the Johns Hopkins University reported a total of 2,546,527 cases worldwide. Out of this number, 678,557 people were reported to have recovered while 175,812 people lost their lives. 

"The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) same Tuesday also reported a total of 665 COVID-19 cases, out of which 188 people recovered with 22 deaths. Reports from European countries like Italy and Spain as well as America which have recorded thousands of coronavirus fatalities could be frightening. 

"Many have openly expressed the fear that, if these industrially advanced countries with their state-of-the-art medical facilities could be overwhelmed by COVID-19 attack, we in Africa (particularly Nigeria) had better doubled our efforts in prevention so that we are not overrun by the invisible enemy!

"It is true that health infrastructure and personnel in many countries of the world are overwhelmed by COVID-19. The difference with us, however, is that in Asia, Europe and America, there are pools of human and materials resources from which they draw to make decisive response. 

"For instance, the rapid response from China leveraged much on stock of trained scientists, engineers, medics and paramedics on which the country had invested through qualitative university education over time. Even a tiny island country like Cuba did not have to look elsewhere in responding to the threat of coronavirus because of its record of massive investment in medical education.

" At the peak of the COVID-19 onslaught, Cuban doctors were even invited to assist one or two European countries! 

"One major lesson Nigeria stands to learn from this experience is that investment in education yields immeasurable dividends. Public education and public health are inseparable. For instance, conscious and determined investment in university education at national and sub-national levels would give our country quality medical scientists, behavioural scientists, creative scholars and other creams of informed citizens who can respond intelligently to challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.

"ASUU fully subscribes to prevention as a major plank of the fight against COVID-19 in Ogun State and Nigeria. As the saying goes, prevention is better and cheaper than cure. So, through it, we can fight together and push back the dreaded virus from our land. 

"The donation of some items to the Ogun State Government today is a practical demonstration of that belief. If sufficiently empowered, Nigerian biomedical scientists, behavioural scientists and others Nigerian scholars, like their peers elsewhere, can conduct cutting edge research into the human and biological dimensions of COVID-19. Who says the vaccine to coronavirus cannot come out of Nigeria?

"We therefore hope Nigerian governments, at state and federal levels, will continue to encourage and support university scholars to all institutional- and professional-related encumbrances that currently make them less productive. Towards this end, we appreciate Mr. President’s approval that the unwarranted embargo placed on salaries of ASUU members in federal universities be lifted immediately. 

"However, it must be clearly stated that the Union would not subscribe to arm-twisting our members for enlistment in the widely condemned Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) through the submission of their Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs).

Responding, Mrs  Salako - Oyedele said the Dapo Abiodun - led administration had embarked on rigorous  campaign and enlightenment at the communities to enlist their support and cooperation towards combating the spread of thr virus in the state.

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