The rift between Nigeria Medical Association, Akwa Ibom Chapter, and the Commissioner for Health has assumed a theatrical dimension over an accusation of playing politics on the containment of COVID-19 in the state.
The state government is said to have relieved Dr. Aniekeme Uwah, the state epidemiologist of his position as a member of Akwa Ibom COVID-19 Incident Management Committee for submitting 31 coronavirus samples to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control for testing against the commissioner’s wish of 10 at a time.
In an interview in Inspiration 105 FM, Uyo on Saturday, Dr. Ekem Emmanuel John, the state Public Relations Officer for NMA is calling for the head of the Health Commissioner, Dr. Dominic Ukpong for being instrumental to the removal of the epidemiologist from the committee and for the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 pandemic.
Though the message of the relief of Uwah of his duty was conveyed through unofficial media: Whatsapp and Facebook to the public, John has confirmed the removal and transfer of the state epidemiologist to another department in the state Health Ministry.
“The Commissioner has been economical with the truth on measures adopted by the state government to contain COVID-19 pandemic. How? He prefers playing politics with the pandemic. That is why he is against carrying out more tests.
“Uwah had instructions from the Commissioner for Health to collect only 10 samples. Uwah asked why and the commissioner for Health replied that Cross River State has no case because they are not testing. This is how we went about testing HIV and became Number 1 in the country.
“Uwah was removed for doing his job. He insisted on case definition, but the commissioner said it should be 10 and not 31 suspected cases at once. This a clinical matter. What has happened is organized intimidation to the victimized Dr. Anekeme Uwah. We are rewarding the behavior for but reprimanding good behavior. It is the Health Commissioner who should be removed not the state epidemiologist.
“It erodes professionalism and sound clinical judgment. The government should allow health-care practitioners to do their work according to their calling.”
According to him, “He sponsored coordinated attacks on health workers who differ with government on the management of the pandemic by some government officials. It is a disservice to Akwa Ibom people. It is wrong to suppress the truth.”