What Anambra Should Learn From The Pandemic- Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo

Every crisis presents an opportunity for self evaluation, for the purpose of learning. Learning to understand responses to the crisis. The success, failure and needed improvement. Learning to accumulate data and strengthen institutions to deal with such crisis in the future. Nations prosper by understanding that crisis is a great learning tool, I often see crisis as a natural stress simulation to test institutional strengths and managerial abilities of leaders.

The pandemic has set many nations crumbling, even the most developed nations with the most sophisticated of health facilities lost in it struggle with the virus. It’s a crisis no one predicted and solutions are haphazardly and spontaneously implemented. The prediction due to the absence of strong and robust health institutions in Africa was that the pandemic will ravage Africa. Thankfully, the Almighty has been gracious to Africa but it doesn’t negate that we must begin to build institutions as we do not know when the next storm will come.

The pandemic exposed two key issues in Anambra state. 1. Dearth of robust health institutions in Anambra state. 2. Poor government communication strategies and 3. Mistrust between the citizens and the government.

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No sooner had the crisis begun that we observed that there were no health Institutions in the state capable of managing outbreaks such as this. The General hospitals were majorly dilapidated, short staffed and lacking in equipments. The hygiene practises in most of this General hospitals are eyesores. They’re all short on bed spaces and had no infectious diseases ward. It was crystal clear that if we had up to 100 positive cases, the health institutions in Anambra would have crumbled.

The Primary Healthcare Centres which ought be the first contact for the sick, especially for those in the rural communities is also out of tune with the time and was incapable of offering testing or case management to those in the rural communities.

The Anambra state government need learn from this and begin to strengthen health institutions in the state. A large chunk of the budget, double digit figures in percentage, must be left for the health sector during budgeting. Health alongside Education are the bastion for human capital development. Hospitals must wear the look of hospitals. Equipments make a hospital and not mere building. The government should intensify efforts and ensure that hospitals are well staffed and equipped. Salaries and wages should also meet the CONMES salary structure. Each ward in Anambra ought to have a properly equipped and functioning Primary Health Centre with at least doctor attached to them on a full time.

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Anambra Chiedozie Nwankwo Pandemic
Dr. Chiedozie Nwankwo

The government must also seek to improve it communication channels. The management of the index case was poor, communication flow was blurry and led to a lot of confusion. It left much to be desired. Citizens were confused on which side of the story to support. This shouldn’t be the case. I am sure the lesson has been learnt and the government will work to improve this.

The ability of the government to exaggerate data, and blur facts in a bid to micro manage publicity will always have an adverse effect on citizens perception of government. Perhaps, this was the reason for the citizens mistrust of the Anambra State Government in the management of the crisis. If this suspicion is true, then the government has a duty to become more truthful and provide honest information at all time to the citizens.

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Another often obscured lesson is the need for data. The Government response was hampered by the unavailability of data for planning. No data showed how many ndi Anambra would be affected by the various actions that would be taken. There was also no internalized economic socioeconomic, demographic or medical data to help the Anambra State Government in it management of the crisis. The State Government in collaboration with the State House of Assembly should create Anambra State Bureau of Statistics, which will be in charged with data management in Anambra State.

The Crisis must not be allowed to go without us learning some vital governance lessons and making necessary amendments. But I fear, just like Chinua Achebe ” The only thing we have learnt from experience is that we learn nothing from experience.”


What are your thoughts?

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