A team of Chinese medical professionals on Wednesday arrived at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Nigeria flying in medical equipment worth about 1.5 million US dollars.
The Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, whiles welcoming the 15-man team said it is time to “reciprocate the friendship and kindness” offered by Nigeria.
The value of the equipment, medical supplies is about $1.5 million, and including the other cost like the chartered air flight, it’s around $2 million, the ambassador disclosed.
China where the COVID-19 disease was discovered in late 2019 has dispatched medics and supplies across the globe in a soft power push. The government placed the team into mandatory 14-day quarantine before they can start their duties.
The decision to welcome the Chinese doctors has however prompted a backlash from the Nigerian Medical Association which argued that Nigeria did not need external intervention to manage the ongoing pandemic. But top government officials including the Health Minister defended the deployment stressing that the Chinese team will help advise local authorities on handling the pandemic.
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.”
Nigeria as of April 9 has recorded 276 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with and six deaths. The West African country is the continent’s most populous and is classed highly vulnerable to the spread of the virus due to its weak healthcare system.
The country has already received medical supplies, including masks, gowns and testing kits from China’s richest man Jack Ma.
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 on Wednesday 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.”