Press Statement: AFRI-CIRD Calls For Decentralization Of Kano State COVID-19 Taskforce

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COVID-19: Decentralize Kano State COVID-19 Taskforce to Maximize Efficiency in Curbing the Pandemic in Kano State.

The African Centre for Innovative Research and Development (AFRI-CIRD) has keenly been observing the trends and development in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kano State since April 11th when it was first announced in Kano State. As a response strategy, the Kano State Government quickly constituted two (2) fundamental committees; COVID-19 Taskforce and Fund Raising – an initiative worthy of commendation. However, we noted several challenges did becloud the journey in the management processes and consequently clamped down on the far more anticipated results by now. In our previous releases, the Centre has made a couple of recommendations drawing from extant reviews of COVID-19 management strategies in similar climes, including calling on the state government to establish a ‘Situation Room’ that is a tripartite arrangement involving the CSOs, Media and State Actors; a platform which would serve as a cross-breeding ground for initiatives for propelling effective management of the pandemic. The platform would have also been a palatable feedback mechanism on activities of the taskforce and independent monitoring by the CSOs and the media as representatives of the larger whole. Similarly, the Centre has at a point draw the attention of the Kano State Government, especially the COVID-19 Fund Raising Committee to explore the fund basket and ensure the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and stimulus packages to frontline healthcare workers in the state hospitals pending the anticipated support from the Federal government. Thus, guaranteeing the safety of this personnel while efficiency is being maximized, especially in attending to patients suffering from other illnesses with similar symptoms of COVID-19. The inadequate or lack of the PPEs for the frontline healthcare workers in the state hospitals has largely been perceived as perhaps another causal factor in the recent increasing mortality rates being experienced in the state; as already expressed in several write-ups. This justifies the popular saying – ‘Your Safety First before Anything’.

Although in the Presidential Address on COVID-19 delivered by H. E. President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday 27th April 2020, the Federal Government had indicated interest to specifically, support Kano State with human, material, and technical resources to contain and control the pandemic. AFRI-CIRD pertinently wishes to reiterate certain fundamental issues and the current reality we are faced within the management processes of COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, as the technical team from FG arrives in the state, a critical note should be taken of the following:

1. The current ‘Operational Strategy’ in the management of COVID-19 appears to be beclouded with a lot of controversies. Thus, has become less effective, making room for a more and obvious deteriorative situation as currently observed on the ground. This calls for a radical review of the entire process towards a more promising strategy in the fight against the pandemic in the state.

2. It is crystal clear that Kano State is at the ‘Community Transmission’ level now. As at 11:50 pm 28th April 2020, NCDC had reported 38 new cases in addition to the 77, making a total of 115 cases in Kano. This is also with the scary reports of deported almajirs from Kano to other states being tested positive to COVID-19 – as in the case reported by Kaduna state;

3. The compliance level to preventive measures on the average is ‘low’. People are seen forming age-grade clusters (Majalisa) defying social gathering and social distancing measures, more especially in the out sketch of Kano metropolis and;

4. There exist quite a pool of misconceptions about COVID-19 amongst the people. Thus, stigmatization, fear, and possible disbelieve amongst the population. The implication, however, is the rapid community transmission.

In line with the aforementioned issues, the Centre hereby call on Kano State Government and recommends as follow:

1. Decentralize the Kano State COVID-19 Taskforce and make room for ‘Local Government COVID-19 Technical Committees within the 44 LGAs of the state. This will reduce the over-concentrated responsibility at the centre, ensure inclusive participation and coordination from grassroots while maximizing efficiency for sensitization and awareness creation, particularly at the grassroots. Similarly, the strategy has the potential for improving compliance to preventive measures at grassroots, enhance transparency and accountability in the management process and strengthen peoples trust in state authorities during this trying period. Similarly, Kwara state did decentralize the state’s COVID-19 taskforce and created the LGA technical committees which were structured into the below five (5) groups to ensure maximum output for the state:
1. Local Government Medical Advisory
2. Policy Enforcement, Ward and Protection
3. Public Education and Awareness/Media
4. Palliative/Grassroot Mobilization and Engagement
5.Economic and Agric Strategy for Identification/Sustainability of Economic Opportunities and Agricultural Sustainability for Food Production during and after the COVID-19 crisis

2. AFRI-CIRD notes that the test lab in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) has come to life now, and Bayero University Kano (BUK) intends to launch an additional test lab. However, with Kano being at ‘Community transmission’ level now, proactive and radical measures need to be taken towards cutting down the already rapidly evolving chain of transmission. AFRI-CIRD, therefore, recommends an establishment of at least a ‘Community Sample Collection & Counselling Centre’ in each of the 44 LGAs bearing in mind physical distance measures. This way large samples can be collected, sent to within and outside lab for a quick test to establish community status towards cutting down the chain of transmission. Also, the Centres should be equipped with skilled counsellors to offer counselling services to member community while emphasizing COVID-19 is not a death sentence and can be effectively managed when contracted. Thus, casting away fears and engendering maximum community cooperation in controlling and containing the pandemic, especially at community levels.

3. Facilitate the establishment of a ‘tripartite situation room’ at the state level involving CSOs, Media and State Actors. This will serve the dual role of feedback mechanism and idea exchange platform in addressing evolving challenges in the management process of the COVID-19 in Kano state.
Signed.
Mohammed Bello
Founder/Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
African Centre for Innovative Research and Development (AFRI-CIRD),
Kano State. Nigeria.
+2348067061591
Mohammed.bello@afri-cird.org

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