The Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy (NSP), the umbrella body of all Physiotherapists practicing in Nigeria wish to commend Federal Government (FG) and the Presidential Task Force on Covid 19 for their activities in the country so far in combating and curtailing the pandemic, COVID-19. The FG commitment and determination to make sure that the spread is reduced to the barest minimum and effort to provide prompt care to Nigerians who tested positive to the dreaded virus did not pass unnoticed by NSP.

The NSP uses this opportunity to salute all frontline heath care professionals and all other frontline officers battling the pandemic, Covid 19. The Health professionals i.e. Physiotherapists, Medical Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Medical Laboratory Scientists, etc who despite the dangers of contacting the disease are still keeping hospitals open to attend to patients. We appeal that the FG should make PPE available to all health personnel in order to reduce their risk of contracting the dreaded virus.

The NSP states in strong terms the need to increase budget of the health sector at this critical time when the health sector is in dire need of funding. We do not have to wait till a period of outbreak before we make sure that our healthcare system is properly funded. The funding should take into consideration equipping of hospitals, revitalization of primary health care units, employment of appropriate number of all health professionals, clinical postgraduate training for all health professionals, research in critical health care areas such as emerging deadly diseases, proper remunerations for health care professionals, etc.

We would like to call on the Federal Government to intensify efforts to provide all necessary equipment required for managing the COVID – 19 patients such as Ventilators. Ventilatory support (mechanical ventilation) is provided to patients with acute respiratory failure, for example in persons with COVID-19 infection, to provide rest for the respiratory muscles and reduce the work of breathing until the acute condition is resolved.

Although no physiotherapy interventions may be used to replace mechanical ventilation in the critically ill, beneficial changes in respiratory mechanics are observed with respiratory physiotherapy interventions in mechanically ventilated patients. These include increase in lung compliance, tidalvolume and oxygen saturation which will lead to less dependence on mechanical ventilation and eventual weaning off the ventilator, a significant indicator of improvement in the patient's condition.

It is worthy of note to state that NSP has certified physiotherapists in various specialties like the Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapy, Orthopaedics Physiotherapy, Paediatric physiotherapy, Neurophysiotherapy just to mention but a few that can manage Physiotherapy aspects of Covid 19 patient and are committed to providing services in this trying times. The exposure of a Physiotherapist is profoundly very high by the nature of the profession which involves physical contact with patients. We therefore wish to request for adequate protection for Physiotherapists especially those that are respiratory specialists and those working in the ICU. 

The Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy wishes to encourage the people of Nigeria to continue to observe measures to prevent the spread of the COVID – 19. While observing the social/ physical distancing and lockdown in some parts of the Country, we encourage participation in physical activities even within homes to prevent the consequences of sedentary lifestyle which is a risk factor for many deadly diseases.

The NSP will like to draw attention of the FG to a likely breach of the extant law guiding the practice of Physiotherapy in Nigeria. We have watched the recent events surrounding the invitation of a group of Chinese Health Personnel, and the responses the invitation has generated among the Nigerian health sector and the general public. We believe the invitation does not in any way show appreciation of the efforts of the ever hardworking and diligent Nigerian Healthcare professionals who have given their best in the face of a poorly funded healthcare system. 

We wish to draw the attention of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidency to the provisions as contained in the Extant Civil Service Rule of 2000 that anyone who wants to practice Physiotherapy in Nigeria must be licensed by MRTB and comply with the code of professional ethic and practice of the MRTBN and NSP.

The NSP is worried, based on the international best practice that recommends an interdisciplinary approach in the management of the COVID-19, that there may be Physiotherapists among the visitingChinese Health Personnel. We believe the team may be a consortium of several specialties comprising Physicians, Cardiorespiratory Physiotherapists, Nurses and other specialists.

Kindly note that Nigeria, through the NSP, is a member organization of the World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT) which believes every individual is entitled to the highest possible standard of culturally appropriate healthcare delivered in an atmosphere of trust and respect for human dignity, and underpinned by sound clinical reasoning and scientific evidence. The NSP wonders if the invitation of the Chinese Team will not be a breach of this trust and a disservice to the Nigerian people.

It is important to find out the constituents of the visiting Team and act accordingly. We will not want the Federal Ministry of Health to breach a law of the land.

God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria

Dr Rufai Yusuf Ahmad, DPT, PhD, MNSP     National President.

Dr Odusanya Oyinlola Felix,PT,M.Sc.,MNSP National General Secretary.