COVID-19 AFRICAN STORIES: Dr. Agba Arinze Shares His Story

Dr. Agba Arinze
  • Photo by Dr. Agba Arinze

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals around the world have been at their busiest in their quest to save lives. And while we may have been previously tempted to dismiss the work that these men and women do on a daily basis, it’s at a time like this when we realize just how valuable they are to our respective societies and the immense sacrifices and contributions they have had to make particularly, in provision of the necessary health care to those who have tested positive for the virus.

As of 21st April 2020, when this article was written, Corona Virus in Africa tracker reported that there were 23, 499 confirmed cases of the Corona Virus in the continent. Out of this, 6,110 had recovered while 1,161 had unfortunately succumbed. In Nigeria, there were 665 confirmed cases on the same date with 188 persons recovered and 22 recorded deaths. A Nigerian medic, Dr. Agba Arinze, who is equally a member of the Covid-19 response team shares his story with ABOC Directory.

Hello, I am Dr. Agba Arinze. I studied medicine at the University of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. I am a Public Health specialist and have practiced medicine for over 13 years. I am currently practicing in Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, Lafia, Nassarawa State in North-central Nigeria.

I was inspired to become a medical doctor by my love of caring for vulnerable people. I choose Public Health as my specialty since my actions as a public health physician, has the potential to cater for the health needs of populations.
During an epidemic free period, my typical work hours were from 8am till 4pm daily apart from weekends. However, we have periodic epidemics of Lassa fever, Measles, Meningitis etc which sometimes affect my work hours and make them unpredictable. The Covid-19 pandemic caused by the novel corona virus: SARS-CoV-2 has added another heavy strain on the already stretched and relatively, poorly equipped health system in Nigeria.

As a member of the Covid-19 response team in my center and State of practice, we have had to conduct numerous training sessions of health workers across the state on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), case definition of the disease itself and its management. Thankfully, though we have had a number of suspected cases, we are yet to have a positive case in Nassarawa State but we are doing everything we can to get prepared.

As a member of the Covid-19 response team in my center and State of practice, we have had to conduct numerous training sessions of health workers across the state on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), case definition of the disease itself and its management.

My wife is a medical doctor as well so she is very understanding. However during epidemics, she would wait for me at the garage with a waste bag and make me take off all my clothes, dump them in the bag, give me a towel and march me straight to the bathroom to scrub myself clean.

The Nigerian government neglected the health system for so long. Top politicians usually prefer to access health care in other continents. The pandemic however, has made it clear that no nation can escape building its own capacity at home. Another problem we have to contend with is the unavailability of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in most hospitals in the country, which is a major source of concern for health workers especially as we are getting reports of Covid-19 related deaths among doctors to add to those we have lost this year to Lassa Fever.

My message to health workers is to stay safe, remember your training and protect yourselves. Together, we can win this war.
Thank you.

Dr. Agba Arinze (MBBS, MWACP)

ABOC Directory celebrates Dr. Agba Arinze, his wife and others in the medical field and offer you a round of applause as you continue with your valuable contributions during this pandemic. In his words, together, we can win this war!

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