The Covid-19 crisis has affected all of our lives in many ways. And it has affected our work in Nigeria. As you probably know, the pandemic has now arrived in Nigeria and is taking off rapidly. The people our clinics serve – the urban and rural poor, living on less than $ 1.70 per day – are particularly vulnerable.
Physical distancing is virtually impossible when entire families share one room for sleeping and multiple families share the same toilets and cooking facilities.
When the virus hits these densely packed conditions, it will spread like wildfire.
Our six medical clinics are on the front line of this crisis in urban and rural settings. Our clinic staff are first responders for poor people who cannot afford to pay market rates for medical care. The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control ( NCDC) has established isolation centers throughout the country to deal with Covid-19 cases. However, our clinics are required to care for the patient until the NCDC team arrives to transport the patient. This can take as long as 48 hours and will extend to longer periods when the NCDC system is overwhelmed.
Kateri Medical Services has developed a strategy to help our clinics to respond to this crisis which will probably overwhelm the entire health care infrastructure very soon. Here is our plan:
First, we have canceled all of our medical outreach missions for spring and summer of 2020.
We had planned four one-week missions in April, May and June. We decided that these would be harmful to our staff and patients as they typically attract thousands of patients and it would be impossible to observe prescribed physical distancing.
Second, we have redirected our mission funds to purchase PPEs for all of our clinic staff, and other equipment to facilitate more sanitary conditions for patients and staff in or clinics.
Third, we will purchase equipment (to the extent our resources allow) to help our clinics treat Covid -19 patients.
This equipment will include oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, N-95 masks, regular face masks for all patients and other sanitary equipment.
Fourth, when possible, we will designate areas for isolation of Covid-19 patients. This will minimize exposure of non-Covid-19 patients from infection. And it will prepare for the probability that NCDC centers will be overwhelmed and our clinics will care for Covid-19 patients for longer terms.
Fifth, we will subsidize the cost of test kits and medicine to help all COVID -19 patients.
Our normal practice is to require all patients to pay for their own medicine and to pay a small fee to be consulted. As long as we are able to do so, we will subsidize those who are not able to pay the consultation fee or for their own drugs.
The rural and urban poor people we serve in Nigeria are very vulnerable. The government health care infrastructure does not serve them very well in the best of times – and these are not good times. We will do everything in our power and with our available resources to help them. Now, more than ever, we need your help. Please help us if you are able.