The impact of frontline workers in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria – Dr. Ibama Onengiyeofori

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Let’s get to meet you. Tell us about yourself and your background

I am a licensed medical laboratory scientist and a certified molecular laboratory scientist (focused on reverse transcriptase real-time PCR) with a demonstrated history of working in the medical/molecular laboratory. I obtained my first degree from the department of medical laboratory science (second class upper division), a master of science (M.Sc.) degree in chemical pathology, and a Ph.D. in chemical pathology, all from the Rivers State University, Nigeria. I am a lecturer and researcher in the department of medical laboratory science, a reviewer in several reputable international journals, and a member of the editorial board in Client Periodique Medicine (a publisher with currently 15 open access journals). I have several published research papers, and I am passionate about teaching and research.

What inspired you into your profession? Have you always had the likeness for scientific procedures and all?

Growing up, I had always loved science, and I performed excellently in all my science-related subjects. In my senior secondary, I was made the science prefect owing to my performance in science subjects. My inspiration for my profession was my absolute love for science, particularly biology and chemistry.

As a scientist what clinical trials have had the most impact in Nigeria in managing Covid 19? Do you feel it’s ideal that as Nigerians we also screen herbal products for Covid 19 management?

Herbs are natural gifts from God. These herbs have been scientifically proven to contain some phytochemicals that exert pharmacological actions, and have been used over several decades for the treatment or management of several medical conditions. As such, I would encourage research related to the use of herbal products in the management of covid 19.

How do you think frontline health workers can be protected on the job from being infected?

Health workers are always at the forefront of the fights against infectious diseases including covid19. As such, the use of personal protective equipment and ample knowledge of infection prevention and control (IPC) are measured to prevent health workers from getting infected on the job.

Do you also think stigmatization is hindering the effective management of the pandemic in Nigeria? What do you think should be done?

Yes, stigmatization has always posed negative effects on the well-being of patients with certain disease conditions. As such, proper awareness should be created on the need to completely eradicate stigmatization, which will, in turn, help in the proper management of the pandemic.

For young people aspiring to become medical laboratory scientists or take their career forward, what skills and values should they have?

The first thing should be passion. When there’s passion, then the next thing is determination, and then intense studies, and positivism.

Can asymptomatic people transmit the virus?

Yes, they can, the reason being that if an individual’s immune system is very competent, he/she might not present with symptoms, but still has the capacity to transmit the virus.

Are you involved in any form of project or activity helping in fighting the spread and management of Covid 19 in Nigeria?

Yes. At the onset of the covid19 pandemic, I got trained on the use of real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) which is the gold standard used in the diagnosis of SARS-COV2. Also, I got certified as a molecular laboratory scientist, and have been working in a molecular laboratory as a volunteer since then, thereby contributing to the fight against the spread and management of Covid19 in Nigeria.

What is the focus of the project and what should Nigeria and the world expect from you in the years to come?

Apart from being a volunteer molecular laboratory scientist, I am actively involved in research, research writing, and biostatistical analysis, with several published scientific research papers in reputable international journals. Currently, I am part of a research hub consisting of erudite scientists and researchers in the field of medical sciences working from the comfort of our homes. We are into the writing of research papers; projects, seminars, manuscripts for publication, abstracts for conferences, guidance and counseling in research, biostatistical analysis, importation of reagents/test kits for research, etc. I wish to be an inventor through research, and in no time, my wish will come through.

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