The Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has called for further extension of the two-week lockdown, saying the period would l not be enough to trace all cases, especially to the local government areas.
NULGE President Ibrahim Khaleel who said this in an interview with journalists, also said people in the rural areas were more vulnerable due to non-availability of health infrastructure.
Comrade Khaleel advised federal government to build more Primary Health Care (PHC) in all the nooks and crannies of the country to cater for the health need of the rural populace.
He said government should make use of the funds donated by individuals and corporate organisations for the fight against the pandemic to execute the projects.
Khalee said: “At the expiration of the two-week lockdown, the federal government should consider extending the lockdown because these two weeks may not be sufficient to get all the cases traced out.
“That’s our thinking as people that are more connected to rural people. We are watching and observing what is happening in the rural areas. Though, there is no clear case of coronavirus yet in any hamlet so far as all the cases traced so far are from the cities, we have already sensitised our chapters to sensitise our people in the rural areas on the need to be watchful and adopt the preventive measures as outlined by the professional on ensuring that they wash their hands regularly, use hand sanitisers and also avoid overcrowded places.
“We did our best in enlightening our members and we are a bit worried, particularly on the health infrastructure available in rural areas. Peradventure we have this pandemic in the rural areas, there is no way it can be tackled. This is because if you look at the capacity and availability of medical infrastructure in the rural areas, it is not encouraging.
“So on this note, I want to use this medium to call on the federal government as a matter of urgency and strategic importance to ensure that even if is from the contributions made by individuals, to complete the abandoned projects which was initiated in collaboration with the federal government and ALGON some years ago on the construction of some rural clinics under the Primary Health Care arrangements.”
The NULGE boss further urged government complete the construction of PHC abandoned in the 774 local governments in the country which had reached almost 70 -80 percent completion.
He said such projects would complement the efforts of Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) which spread is limited to city centres.
“That abandoned projects in the rural areas should be given good attention this time around because that projects were spread all over the 774 local governments in the country. The projects were also sited in remote areas considered without health facilities in those local government areas but unfortunately, completion is the problem. So, it is important for the federal government to do something, mostly that the projects have reached up to 70 to 80 per cent completion.
“The records of death is being downplayed, because some of the people infected are disconnected from the records and I believe strongly that some deaths that have occurred, most especially in remote areas have link with coronavirus. But because of the disconnect in records, may be in tracing the contacts that spread among some of the people infected that are identified and even some of the people yet to be identify. So, the probability of that is there.
“The best way to address this kind of situation is to ensure that the local governments PHC units are functioning very well and infrastructures are adequately on ground because they can actually complement the efforts of the NCDC. NCDC is like the tertiary facilities and it has no bearing with the rural areas and you can’t remove the probability of having some people being infected spreading it to the rural areas.
“There is more cases that have not been traced by NCDC because their structure is central and if you are doing something like this, it must be bottom-top approach because top-bottom approach does not yield the required results and all these gap must be bridged.”