COVID -19 AND THE PLIGHT OF HEALTH WORKERS IN NIGERIA
The Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals commends President Mohamodu Buhari for acknowledging in his national broadcast (Sunday, 29th March, 2020) the patriotic efforts and sacrifices of health workers at the frontline of combating COVID – 19 in Nigeria.
We wish to appreciate our members and all professional associations both at the state and national level for their doggedness to constitute COVID-19 RESPONSE committees; we urge all state governments to integrate these groups into their various Technical Working Groups.
With the President’s pronouncement of total lockdown of Abuja and Lagos including Ogun state, we demand that Federal Government work out modalities to ensure that health workers in those areas are provided with adequate support to enhance human logistics and other support systems.
We also demand for the provision of more Personal Protective Equipment and free medication for all health workers at the frontline of the war against the pandemic. Given the high risk of infection faced by health workers, we also demand that Federal Government commences life insurance scheme for all health workers; this will further encourage them to remain devoted to save the rest of the populace from the Covid-19 pandemic.
We urge federal and state governments to provide adequate isolation centres, ventilators, testing kits and other necessary equipment that will allow health workers to be fully functional nationwide.
We demand for immediate payment of ₦100, 000 Special COVID-19 allowances to all health workers at the frontline of the war against COVID-19 during this emergency period occasioned by the pandemic as is presently done to other health workers globally.
In view of the fact that our members and other health workers in Nigeria are patriotically committed to the fight against the COVID – 19 pandemic. It is absolutely imperative for the Federal Government to encourage and motivate them through immediate implementation of the following:
Upward review of hazard allowance for health workers from the paltry ₦5, 000 to ₦100, 000;
Payment of withheld salaries of April and May 2018 to health workers in Federal Health Institutions;
Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) adjustment and 30th September, 2017 agreement
We appeal to the Federal Government to set up a committee comprising of representatives of health workers’ unions, government, organised private sector and civil society organisation to oversight and monitor all equipment and funds put in place by government and those donated by China’s richest man, Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, well meaning Nigerians and corporate bodies by ensuring judicious distribution and prevent diversion to private hospital or private use. Hence, EFCC/ICPC should ensure that all private health facilities and institutions acquired illegally and at the expense of public health institutions should be immediately impounded and converted accordingly as part of measures to address this national emergency imposed on us by COVID – 19 pandemic.
It is obvious that the outbreak of coronavirus has exposed the inadequacy and poor state of our health infrastructures at all levels, consequently we urge the Federal Government to commence a holistic approach to proper funding and management of the health industry in Nigeria. We suggest the establishment of National Health Institutions Trust Fund (NHITFUND) similar to Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). All funds donated during this period should be used as a take-off. Trade unions in the health industry should be part of the formation, implementation and monitoring of the scheme.
To our teaming members and their families who are at the frontline and likely to be victims as a result of their professional callings, we encourage you to be strong and do your best in the service of God and humanity, as you make use of the preventive and protective equipment in discharging your life saving duties. The union leadership will continue to pray for you and give you the needed support, encouragement and solidarity.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Solidarity forever!
Comrade Dr. Ogbonna O.C. Comrade Martin Adekunle Egbanubi
National President General Secretary