PROMINENT Kano citizens have risen to the challenge posed by the escalation in the number of infections that has dramatically shot the state to number one position to form a common front against Covid-19. A Press Statement from the group, Kano Against Covid-19 – A Citizens and Civil Society Initiative, has revealed.

The group’s emergence followed a recent Save-Our-Soul (SOS) by the Executive Director of Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Mallam Yunusa Zakari Ya’u, to Kano intellectuals, captains of business and leaders of thought as the rate of infections for coronavirus rose sharply. As the rate of infections climbed, reports of dozens of ‘mysterious deaths’ also emerged; deaths which were said to have mimicked covid-19 cases.

Prominent members of the Kano Against Covid-19 Initiative include Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa, Alhaji Abba Dabo, Prof. M. Y. Bello, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, Prof. Fatima B. Mukhtar, Hajuya Fatima Wali Abdulrahman , Alhaji Isyaku Umar Tofa, Danadala; Alhaji Sule Yahaya Hamma; A. B. Mahmoud (SAN) and Prof. Awwalu Yadudu (SAN).

Others include Prof Jibrin Ibrahim; Prof Mohammed Tabiu; Maryam Uwais; Prof Mahmoud Sani; Aisha Oyebode Amal Hassan and Mallam Y. Z. Ya’u.

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The group, after a series of engagements with healthcare professional, observed and came out with recommendations which it said are very urgent in containing the pandemic in the state.

Noting that on-the-ground-assessments have shown that Kano is at the stage of widespread community infection, especially in the densely populated core local government areas of the metropolis – Dala, Municipal and Gwale, the group recommend the need to establish the extent and pattern of the epidemic by rapidly expanding testing and the provision of more testing centres and kits; the provision of more bed spaces for isolation, holding areas and case management of patients and the unified management protocols for all covid-19 patients in the state and the urgent need to procure and deliver of sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for protection of medical personnel, a significant number of whom had been infected in the early days of the infection in the state.

Other urgent steps recommended by the group include the need to introduce a system of triage, sorting and provision of telemedicine facilities to ensure medical care for all sick persons due to the fact that virtually all medical centres in the state have stopped admitting patients for non-covid-19 infections; the urgent need to improve on the welfare of healthcare workers in terms of remuneration, accommodation, adequate protection and health insurance; and finally, the need to set up a joint task force consisting of the members of the current State Task Force and representation from AKTH and NOH Dala – for improved synergy and coordination and for unified decisions and synergy in the implementation of strategies.

According to the group, while some states such as Lagos exhibited greater capability and professionalism in dealing with the crisis and have been able to mobilize resources within a short span of time to put effective structures on ground and also address some of the humanitarian needs of their people, the opposite was the case in Kano State due to poor preparation and poor leadership direction all of which combined to create doubts in the citizenry on the reality of covid-18.

“Unfortunately, the situation in Kano State has been quite worrisome, if not alarming.  It now appears to be in a full scale community transmission with many deaths recorded in the last two to three weeks.

“It was obvious that there was inadequate preparation at the state level and control measures were ineffective. There was lack of clear messaging to the citizens. Discordant tunes were also coming from some religious and community leaders expressing doubts about the existence of the disease.

“The lockdown subsequently introduced by the State authorities was not vigorously enforced even after the Federal authorities extended the period. There was seeming dissonance in the institutional framework for the coordination of the State Covid-19 Control efforts, including crisis within the Task Force after some of its members became infected.  The only testing facility at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) was temporarily closed after being contaminated.

“It was in this context that Kano stakeholders and community leaders came together in a citizen initiative – Kano Against Covid-19 to determine how best to assist in contributing to an effective strategy for dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak in Kano,” the statement notes.

The statement outlined five objectives of the initiative which include to engage in advocacy and mobilisation along the three tiers of government, within the community, the private sector, civil society and international partners to combat the pandemic; identity the key problems and challenges bedevilling efforts to curb the spread of covid-19 in the state; develop an intervention logic practices with the competencies and capacity to address the problem and challenges identified; develop a framework on how to engage collectively to contribute to a better strategy of curtailing and containing the spread of the virus in Kano; and provide a strategy that adequately prepares for the post-covid era, in Kano.

According to the Citizens and Civil Society Initiative, the last few days have been exclusively dedicated to engagements on how to overcome the infection in the state.

“In the last few days we have held series of intensive virtual meetings and consultations to map out a framework and strategy for intervention. At our third meeting on Monday 4th May, 2020 at 9.00 pm, there were 72 persons in attendance. These include prominent community leaders, professionals of various backgrounds and civil society leaders.

“During our meetings we had the benefit of engaging with and being briefed by several professionals engaged in the effort to control the spread of the disease in Kano.  These include Dr. Sani Aliyu, National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19,  as well as Dr. Nasir Sani Gwarzo, Head of the Presidential Task Force to Kano, along with his colleague, Dr. Mukhtar Mohammed. We were also briefed by Prof. Musa Mohammed Borodo, the Head of the Scientific Committee of the Kano State Government on Covid-19.

“At two of our meetings, we also had the benefit of being briefed by Ms Zouera Youssoufou, CEO of Aliko Dangote Foundation. We are greatly appreciative of their efforts in assisting our understanding of the Kano situation. We also thank them for their immense sacrifices and empathy,” the group stated.

The group, noting that due to the profound series of misunderstanding of the disease in Kano, emphasise the need for the state government to work with other stakeholders such as traditional rulers, religious leaders and the media to improve on public enlightenment on combatting the epidemic.

“Currently, the continuation of congregational prayers in some mosques, playing of football and other sports, mass attendance of burials and mourning scenarios all indicate a very poor understanding of social distancing which must be urgently addressed.

“Working with stakeholders to popularize the advisory delivered by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) on the interment of possible victims of COVID-19 pandemic (which recommends safer and Islamically legitimate ways of washing, shrouding carrying out Janazah prayers for suspected Covid-19 victims), the Initiative would support enforcement efforts, which also complies with the NCDC guidelines for burials .

“It is strongly recommended that attendance at Funerals (Salatul Janazah and Burial) for all Deceased (COVID19 and Non-COVID19) during the period of the Pandemic should NOT be encouraged by all people due to the high potential for  COVID19 infection.

“To introduce a new and more inclusive, efficient and transparent approach to the collection and distribution of palliatives through trustworthy community-based organizations.

“Advocacy on the importance of wearing face masks and staying at home (unless absolutely necessary) shall be ramped up, through appropriate media and advocacy channels,” the initiative advised, adding that it will also be deploying technology and innovation to address the pandemic.

“We are working with relevant stakeholders to develop content to mount a social media enlightenment campaign; setting up a call centre facility to support easier contact with NCDC and another one for the public who might be in need for quick interventions; developing an App that enables people to self- test themselves based on questions provided by the Ministry of Health. The result of the self-test would go directly to the NCDC and it can use it as basis to act, and raising of funds to allow these engagements to proceed effectively.”

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