The Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association and the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives have accused the Federal Government of not being proactive enough in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease.
The doctors and nurses said at separate news conferences in Lagos on Sunday, that the government had yet to put in place adequate measures to protect health workers willing to manage those infected by the deadly virus.
The state NMA, through its chairman, Dr. Tope Ojo, therefore challenged the federal and Lagos state governments to provide protective kits and address the issue of hazard allowance for doctors, nurses and other health workers ready to be involved in treating infected persons.
It also faulted the life insurance cover announced by both the federal and state governments, saying its provisions had yet to be spelt out.
The NMA said, ‘‘Any health worker that is managing an Ebola patient is risking his/her life and that of his family. Ebola has killed over 61 doctors in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It is a serious issue.
“You don’t just dangle life insurance without documents. We cannot endanger our lives unless we know what is at stake.We should be assured that should anything happen to us, our families are catered for.
“The terms of the insurance must be in public domain in a transparent manner.
“It is sad that it had to take an Ebola outbreak, for government to realise that health workers need life insurance cover.”
Also at the news conference, the association’s Secretary, Dr. Babajide Saheed, said it was imperative for both governments to put in place adequate infection control measures to effectively check the spread of the EVD.
Saheed said,” Please you journalists should visit the IDH(Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba and find out what the Federal Government has put in place for effective infection control.
“Please compare it to what health workers in Guinea and Liberia had while treating Ebola patients.
“Till now, the Federal and state governments have not come out with a concrete position on the life insurance cover they have offered to us and the public.
“By protecting health workers that are managing suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola, you are protecting the public from infections, because doctors are part of the society.”
The Lagos NMA also used the opportunity to declare that the nationwide strike by doctors had not been called off.
Also, nurses, at their own news conference, said it was regrettable that the Federal Government had not learnt to act fast during emergency situations like the Ebola virus outbreak.
They also berated the Federal Ministry of Health for negotiating with the NMA to end its strike, saying that the association (NMA) was not a trade union but a professional body which had no right to boycott work.
Their President, Mr. Abdrufai Adeniji, said, “It is appalling that Nigeria is still at the stage of making arrangements when the virus has already been granted certificate of occupancy and has taken full residence in the country. “Government should learn to copy true international best practice which its agents are quick to shout when they are on their mission of deceit.
“Serious governments have already put in place precautionary measures to prevent the pandemic on their soil and some even have treatments even though such are still in the clinical trial stage.
“Government needs to understand that its business should be doing more than it says and taking actions that surpass mere arrangements.”
He commiserated with the family of the nurse who lost her life after contracting the disease while treating Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian man who brought the disease into the country.
Adeniji urged nurses to exercise extreme caution while treating Ebola patients as they stood a higher risk of contracting the disease than doctors.
He said, “We hereby call on nurses to remain committed to their calling and be cautious of the precautionary measures to forestall further incidences. The government at all levels should do their part to provide adequate equipment infrastructure, protective wears, policies to take care of the victims of the virus and other deadly issues.
“The government should immediately set up an intervention team to attend to the situation.”
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