By Akanimo Sampson
The third wave of the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic is currently making life unbearable for some countries that thought they were through with the scourge.
World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi, who made this known in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital said, “we are still going through this pandemic and we are seeing some countries that thought they were through, only to be surprised by the third wave.
‘’So, we really want to come to you (Governor Nyesom Wike) to avoid the catastrophe that was predicted for Nigeria that we have avoided so far. And I know Rivers State being the second economy in Nigeria can play a major role in that.”
Governor Wike however, told his guest that the state has achieved enormous success in reducing the rate of malaria infection and HIV/AIDS among the people because of the robust partnership it has with WHO.
He announced the success rate of the partnership when he hosted a delegation from WHO at Government House, Port Harcourt, noting that the issuance of polo free status certificate of clearance to Nigeria was made possible because of the partnership with WHO.
“If you did not work hard with us, probably it would not have been possible. Our ideas and your partnership made it very easy for us to get to the level we are.
“The relationship between Rivers State Government and WHO is an interesting, and a rewarding one. That was why when you asked for accommodation, we did not hesitate in providing you a befitting and furnished office and also to other agencies.
“We believe that partnering with you will go a long away in improving our healthcare system. When medical workers go on strike I asked to know why the strike and solve the problem. I can also tell you of the cooperation and support we get from the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA). Working together with them, we believe we will continue to correct the challenges.”
The governor described the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic as a storm across the globe that challenged every sane government to seek out enduring measures to safeguard its citizens
“No sane leader will fold his hands, and not to work hard. The COVID-19 has affected every government economically and so things have changed. However, we will not relent to see that our people are free from it even though it is not easy. In most rural areas, some people don’t even believe that it exist except you carry our enlightenment. It is our responsibility to make sure that we do the right thing.”
Speaking further, Governor Wike said he was satisfied with the rate of COVID-19 testing and vaccination, with the State ranked as the third as regards testing in the country, pointing out that his Commissioner of Health has briefed him of the level of support gained to ease the vaccination process.
The governor then expressed surprise that the Health Contributory Bill has not been brought to him to sign it into law. He assured the delegation that he will expedite action to ensure it signed into law, stating that the state g government now awards scholarship every year to at least 100 Rivers students studying medicine and other related courses at PAMO University.
“We are doing everything to improve on the number of health workers that are available at our hospitals”, he adds.
The WHO chief in Nigeria, Kazadi, commended Governor Wike for the remarkable leadership he has continued to provide in the fight against COVID-19 in the state.
“We are visiting at a time when we are seeing a sign of hope with COVID-19 vaccination that has started and I will like to congratulate you on the vaccination programme that has started in this state. It really helps us provide some hope.
“But, I will like to emphasize that we are still vulnerable until everyone is safe; until all the groups that need to get the vaccine get them, starting with the health worker, the front line workers, the elderly, the people with underlying conditions.
The WHO representative acknowledged it is leaders like Governor Wike who are committed to counterpart funding that has improved health indices in Nigeria including the victory it clinched over Polo virus.