A team of 15 Chinese medical professionals were sent to Nigeria in early April 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.
But on May 14, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, according to the BBC, reporters that the experts were guests of a Chinese construction company handling several high-profile projects in Nigeria and that not all of them were doctors, as he had heard that some of them were technicians who are staff of the company.
“There seems to be a lot of interest in these doctors but they are staff of a company. I would be very happy if you do not ask me where they are,” he said.
“They are not really our guests in that sense but we have been able to learn some things from them. We shared ideas of what they did in their country in managing Covid-19,” he added.
Minister Ehanire’s statement seems to differ from that of Information Minister Lai Mohammed, who told reporters that the Chinese doctors were already working at different isolation centres across the country where they were “helping our doctors in capacity building”.
Last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the medical team was sent at the request of the Nigerian government, who “had voiced welcome and gratitude to China’s help”.
The decision to welcome the Chinese doctors, however, resulted in a backlash from the Nigerian Medical Association which indicated 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.
Health Minister Osagie Ehanire defended the move saying “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.”
We hope that Nigeria health workers will achieve much success in fighting the dreadful coronavirus.