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COVID-19: NCDC urged to increase transparency around testing data

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been urged to make public the daily number of Nigerians being screened for the coronavirus.

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Chief Executive Officer, NCDC

A coalition of civil society groups led by Civic Media Lab (CML) urged the NCDC to provide this critical data set, which the coalition said would help Nigerians and the world know the true state of the fight against the pandemic.

“The fight against the coronavirus is a common fight in which all Nigerians are enlisted. However, as stakeholders in the fight against Coronavirus disease we request to have this critical piece of the puzzle so that we would know how far along we are in securing a victory,” CML Director, Akinfolarin Oluwaseun, said in the statement issued on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

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“Civic Media Lab and some members of the coalition have deployed all their resources towards fighting this pandemic and more resources will be deployed in areas where there are perceived deficiencies but it is pertinent for all stakeholders to know that the leadership of this battle is honest and transparent with us,” he added.

Akinfolarin said the strategy that has worked in places that have seen significant reduction in the number of cases has been due to four factors namely: testing, isolation, treatment and tracing.

Testing, he said, is the most critical of the four critical success factors, adding that, without testing, it is difficult to know who has been infected and stopping the spread through innocent infection of others is not feasible.

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“While not trying to second guess the knowledge and wisdom of the professionals in NCDC, we can follow the simple logic that we cannot control what you cannot see and the simple way of seeing is by doing these tests,” Akinfolarin said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is critical to help track the virus, understand the epidemiology, inform case management, and to suppress transmission.

Akinfolarin explained that the countries that are successfully managing this crisis tested thousands of citizens daily at the outset. Nigeria is falling behind when compared to other countries, he warned,

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He said the coalition would support the Federal Government and NCDC in every way possible during the crisis but wishes to demand cooperation, transparency, accountability and proactive disclosure of information from all those concerned.

Other members of the coalition are The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact (The Interactive), HEDA Resource Centre, Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Reboot, Centre for Advocacy, Transparency and Accountability Initiative (CATAI) and PARE.

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