Don’t ask the whereabouts of ‘Chinese doctors’, says Health Minister
Nigeria’s Minster of Health, Osagie Ehanire has said it is not right for Nigerians to ask the whereabouts of fifteen Chinese ‘health experts’ who landed in Nigeria last month in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
Despite protests against the invitation of the Chinese by the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Nigerian Medical Association, Nigeria’ s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigerian government went ahead to bring the Chinese team.
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The minister said the ‘Chinese doctors’ ‘came into Nigeria’ on the Chinese Visa and Nigerians are not supposed to ask their whereabouts.
The Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, while welcoming the 15-man team said the team had come to “reciprocate the friendship and kindness” offered by Nigeria.
At the same time, the Nigerian Government said the team was invited by the Chinese Construction Company in Nigeria.
The Minister’s response came on Thursday during media briefing of the presidential taskforce on COVID-19 in Abuja when a journalist sought to know where the Chinese ‘health experts’ had been since they landed in Nigeria two months a go
“Not all of them are doctors. Some of them are technicians. Don’t ask about them because they are here on their country’s visa”, the Health Minister said.
The team of Chinese personnel, who were initially introduced as medical professionals arrived Nigeria on Wednesday, April 9th through Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport.
The team also came in with medical equipment and supplies valued at about $1.5 million, “including the other cost like the chartered air flight, it’s around $2 million” the ambassador disclosed.
Minister Osagie Ehanire told reporters: “This is a global problem, you know that this is affecting the whole world in such a way that all countries must help each other and we must also be our brothers keeper.”
Meanwhile the opposition People Democratic Party, PDP, kicked against what it called the importation of Chinese medics.
A statement released by the main opposition party read in part: “The PDP charges Nigerians to hold President Buhari responsible should there be any upsurge in the rate of COVID-19 infection and death in our country following the importation of doctors from China, the epicenter of the scourge, by the Buhari-led Federal Government.
“The PDP is alarmed that President Buhari ignored the protests by Nigerians and professional bodies including the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and allowed the importation of the Chinese doctors despite warnings that bringing in doctors from the hotbed of the plague will expose our citizens to further risks.
“This is even as Nigerians across board have continued to question the status, identity and interest of the Chinese doctors as well as the safety of kits and equipment from China, particularly following scary reports of escalation of the scourge in certain countries reportedly after the arrival of Chinese medical personnel in those countries.”