FG Disburses N20bn As COVID-19 Allowance To Health Workers

File photo: Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora.

 

The Federal Government says it has paid N20 billion as COVID-19 allowance to health workers in the country.

This is according to the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora who spoke on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.

“We’ve been able to disburse close to N20 billion and I repeat close to 20 billion. So, to now say nothing has been done, that is not true,” the minister said.

Dr Mamora explained that the Federal Government had to stop the payment of hazard allowance to the health workers because of renegotiation with them.

“We were able to pay April, May full, June, part of it has been paid but not fully paid and it’s because of the economic situation and these funds have to be sourced for one way or the other,” he added.

According to the Minister, the funds were paid to “Federal health institutions” across the country including Federal Medical Centres (FMCs), teaching hospitals among others.

On the N5,000 hazard allowance for doctors and health workers, the Minister stated that the payment has existed in the country for about 30 years but was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

– ‘No Exemptions’ –

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) had on Monday embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike to press home its demand.

According to the union, the doctors are downing tools and demanding a pay rise, better welfare, and adequate facilities.

“We have kicked off the strike today,” NARD president Aliyu Sokomba told AFP, adding that medics treating virus cases would join the action this time around.

“There will be no exemptions,” he said.

“We have arrears of 2014, 2015, 2016, salary shortfalls that were supposed to have been paid over six years ago, still pending,” Sokomba added. “These are the issues we have and they appear not to have been addressed up till this day.”

Resident Doctors To Embark On Indefinite Nationwide Strike From Monday

 

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has announced that it will embark on an indefinite nationwide strike from Monday.

The National Executive Council of the resident doctors said this was part of its resolutions at a virtual meeting held on Wednesday.

The meeting which was attended by over 200 doctors – NOC, NEC, past presidents, caucus leaders, committee chairmen, and observers, was held to review the 21-day ultimatum issued to government which elapsed on August 17.

The NEC noted that in spite of the inclusion of the residency funding in the revised 2020 budget, the government has not made plans to implement the payment after several promises by stakeholders.

It also noted the failure of the Federal Government to procure group life insurance and death in service benefits for all health workers.

Another observation the council made was that though an agreement has been reached between the government and stakeholders in the health sector to pay COVID-19 inducement allowance for 6 months (April – September), payment was only made for April, May and June in some institutions and the process was, thereafter, abandoned.


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“NEC observed the insincerity of the government in determining the revised hazard allowance for all health workers which was supposed to commence in September 2020,” the council said.

“NEC noted nonpayment of the outstanding salary shortfall of 2014, 2015, 2016 under the guise of the so called appeal of the National industrial Court decision that granted the judgment in favor of the payment in the first place by Federal Ministry of health.

“NEC observed the plight of her members in state tertiary hospitals such as the nondomestication and non-implementation of Medical Residency Training Act at the state level, the non-implementation of appropriate salary structure, and the nonpayment of owed salaries.”

 

The resident doctors and the Federal Government have been in a long drawn battle over the payment of hazard allowance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of July, no fewer than 200 doctors in Lagos State alone contracted the coronavirus in the line of duty.

 

They, thereafter, resolved, among other things, to proceed on an indefinite nationwide strike action from 8:00 am on Monday until some conditions are met.

One of the conditions includes the immediate payment of the Medical Residency Training funding to all her members as approved in the revised 2020 budget.

Another condition stated by the NEC, is the provision of genuine group life insurance and death in service benefits for all health workers, as well as, the payment of the outstanding April/May and June COVID-19 inducement allowance to all health workers.

Other conditions to be met include: “Determination of the revised hazard allowance for all health workers as agreed in previous meetings with relevant stakeholders.

“Immediate payment of the salary shortfalls of 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“Doctors working under the various tertiary health institutions to be placed on appropriate salary grade level and universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act of 2017 in all State tertiary health institutions.

“Payment of all arrears owed our members in Federal and States tertiary health institutions, arising from the consequential adjustment of the National minimum wage”.

They also appealed to Nigerians to “bear with us during this period of industrial disharmony”, while calling on relevant stakeholders to intervene in the issue to ensure speedy resolution.

UITH, Doctors Deny Involvement In Patient’s Death

The entrance of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital in Kwara State.

 

The death of a patient at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) in Kwara State over the alleged switch off of the respirator at the medical facility has continued to generate more controversy.

In separate reactions to the incident, the management of the hospital and the Association of Resident Doctors at the UITH both denied being culpable in the death of the patient.

While the doctors insisted that they were not on strike at the time, adding that they do not have access to the control of electricity supply and equipment.

The Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU), on its part, admitted that its members were on a warning strike but denied culpability.

A photo showing one of the wards at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital in Kwara State.

 

JOHESU Chairman at the hospital, Olutunde Olawunmi, stressed that concession was given to the management by allowing its members to ensure the availability of electricity throughout the period of the strike.

He stated that the unions who were not on strike were in charge of patients at the medical facility and not JOHESU.

On his part, the Chairman of UITH Medical Advisory Committee, Louis Odeigha, accused the family of the patient of absconding without being discharged, with bills yet to be settled.

However, an elder brother of the late patient, Sunday Adeboye, claimed that his brother died as a result of the negligence of the health workers at the hospital.

He added that the alleged switching off of the respirator and flogging of the nurses by the striking workers made them evacuate the patient to another hospital where he eventually died.

Strike: Over 200 Lagos Doctors Infected With COVID-19 – Medical Guild

The Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, flanked by his colleagues at a press conference in Lagos on July 12, 2020.

 

No fewer than 200 doctors in Lagos State have contracted coronavirus (COVID-19) in the line of duty.

This is according to the Medical Guild in its response to an earlier statement from the state government on the ongoing warning strike by doctors in the state.

In a statement jointly signed by the association’s Chairman and Secretary, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo and Dr Ismail Ajibowo, on Tuesday, the group said the government was aware of the situation.

It decried that while members were committed to their duties, a large number of those who tested positive have infected members of their families.

The guild also accused the government of making attempts to portray it as being unprofessional and casting untrue impression that the strike was masterminded by a few members of the association.

READ ALSO: Lagos Responds To Medical Guild’s Demands, Asks Doctors To Resume Work

It, however, stressed that the association has an objective to cater for the welfare of its members and provide world-class medical services to the people.

According to the statement, the guild has been seeking priority testing for all healthcare workers and patients on admission in hospitals.

It explained that this was necessary to improve the provision of safe medical services, but the government had ignored its call – one of the reasons for the decision to go on strike.

File: Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, speaks during an interview on Sunrise Daily on January 28, 2020.

 

The statement comes a day after the Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos, Gbenga Omotoso, faulted the decision of the doctors to go on strike and asked them to return to work.

He had accused the association of making wrong claims, stressing that the government had been extremely supportive of health workers, especially those at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19.

Read the full statement from the Medical Guild below:

PRESS RELEASE AS A RESPONSE TO THE RELEASE BY THE LAGOS STATE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION ON THE MEDICAL GUILD 3 DAY WARNING STRIKE

The Medical Guild wants to use this medium to respond to the Press release of the 13th July 2020 by the Ministry of Information on the 3-day warning strike which started on the13th of July 2020.

The association noted with regrets the attempts to paint the association as being unprofessional and casting untrue impression that the strike is being masterminded by a few members of the Medical Guild.

The Medical Guild is a professional body with well-skilled members, an affiliate of NMA with the aim of catering for the welfare of its members and providing world-class medical services to Lagosians, Nigerians, and foreigners.

Since its inception in 1926, it has been at the forefront of innovative strides and collaborative efforts with Government on the issue of health sector development and progress. The Guild attempted all within its powers to prevent the strike.

We start by drawing the attention of the government that more than 200 medical doctors who are members of the Guild have been infected with COVID-19, many of whom also infected their families with attendant short and long-term complications. This is a testament to our desire to serve our patients and our calling.

The Guild had also been at the forefront of advocating for priority testing for all health care workers and patients on admission in hospitals so as to up scale provision of safe medical services, suggestions which had been largely jettisoned until the declaration of strike action.

On the specific issues raised about the wages, salaries, and emoluments, we are happy that the LASG has now agreed that our federal counterparts in the same state earn much more than doctors working with Lagos State and this situation has been going on for years without a definitive action from government to bridge the gaps.

Apart from the fact that there are security implications of releasing remuneration of employees publicly, the LASG has maintained that they have no agreement with the COVID-19 volunteers at the isolation centre, hence government has been paying any amount deemed fit, usually after agitations.

The Federal Government on the other hand had earlier engaged the various medical/health associations in discussions and came up with a negotiated agreement and we expect the same to be done to our members in Lagos State, especially as we are the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

The increased hazard allowance which was quoted as being increased by over 400 percent translates to an increase from 5,000 naira to 25,000 naira.

We assure that our principal objective is to get the necessary attention of Mr Governor to resolve these challenges in order to continue the peaceful harmonious relationship with government for the delivery of qualitative healthcare services to the populace with positive development in the health sector.

Our motto had been to present, engage, negotiate, and then implement which is the only panacea to preventing disruption of services in the health sector.

We will continue to do all we can to deescalate the situation and continue discussion and negotiations with  government, especially at this time of COVID-19, while urging the relevant ministries and agencies of government to imbibe the spirit of engagement and negotiation so that Lagosians can continue to enjoy uninterrupted healthcare services delivery.

We conclude by appreciating the efforts of Mr Governor, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and other eminent Lagosians like the First Lady, Dr (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; His Royal Highness, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, and well-meaning Nigerians.

Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo

Chairman.

Dr Ismail Ajibowo

Secretary.

35 Doctors Test Positive For COVID-19 In Kwara

A government health worker shows a Covid-19 test. Credit: AFP

 

Thirty-five medical doctors have tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kwara State.

The Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in the state, Kolade Sholageru disclosed this on Monday while addressing journalists on the activities of the union.

According to him, most of the affected members are those working outside the isolation centres as they have no access to personal protective equipment.

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The NMA boss, therefore, appealed to the state government to give hazard allowance as being enjoyed by the doctors in the employment of the Federal Government and also made a case for a tax rebate for his colleagues.

Lagos Doctors To Begin Warning Strike On Monday

The Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, flanked by his colleagues at a press conference in Lagos on July 12, 2020.

 

Doctors in Lagos State under the aegis of the Medical Guild are set to begin a three-day warning strike from Monday.

The Chairman of the guild, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, announced this on Sunday while addressing a press conference in Lagos State.

According to him, the medical practitioners took the decision to embark on industrial action over issues they say affect their safety and welfare.

Sodipo explained that the decision formed part of the resolutions reached during the meeting of the leadership of the association convened to review the challenges of medical doctors in the state.

He said, “After robust deliberations, the Council observed that the following were some of the unresolved demands of the Guild.

“They include wage disparity between Federal and Lagos State doctors which was not being given attention, the issue of COVID-19 hazard allowances and inducement allowances as approved by the Federal Government which have not yet been domesticated by Lagos State for her doctors; that the doctors working in the isolation centres were still being owed two months’ allowances which have not been paid as at the time of the meeting.”

“There were also concerns that they (the doctors) were unceremoniously disengaged without recourse to their welfare,” the guild chairman added.

A file photo of the Commissioner for Health in Lagos, Professor Akin Abayomi. Photo: [email protected]

 

In view of the challenges, he revealed that the representative council resolved to activate the resolution of the association on a three-day warning strike.

Sodipo noted that the industrial action would commence from 8am on Monday to 8am on Thursday.

He, however, said members of the guild working in the state’s coronavirus (COVID-19) isolation centres have been exempted.

As the doctors prepare to go on strike, the Lagos State government said 224 new COVID-19 infections were confirmed positive out of the 1,245 tests conducted on Saturday.

It added that as of July 11, Lagos has a total of 12,280 confirmed cases of COVID-19 from 48,929 tests conducted so far.

The Commissioner for Health in the state, Professor Akin Abayomi, who disclosed the figures via his Twitter handle on Sunday confirmed that 1,850 cases have since been discharged from the government’s care centres following their full recovery from the disease.

According to him, 329 cases are currently under isolation in public and private care centres while 2,023 active cases in communities are yet to turn up for admission.

COVID-19: NMA Accuses Cross River Of Deceit, Govt Disagrees

Dr Agam Ayuk                                                                                                                            Dr Betta Edu

 

The Cross River State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has accused the state government of deceit in the way it is handling coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the state.

Speaking during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, the State NMA Chairman, Dr Agam Ayuk, decried that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has yet to update the situation in Cross River in its report on the outbreak of the disease in the country.

He, however, blamed the government for the action of the health agency, stressing that five COVID-19 cases involving two doctors had been confirmed at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH).

“We have said that the NCDC has not updated the five cases that were confirmed from an NCDC-accredited laboratory in Abakaliki (Ebonyi State) in their situation report.

“That result was really as far back as July 1 and it was transmitted to the hospital (UCTH) as at July 1 and I think the Commissioner for Health and His Excellency, the Governor of Cross River State, were given those results on the 2nd,” the NMA chairman explained.

He said, “As we speak, that has not reflected on the NCDC platform and from what we are being told, the state government has refused to assign state code epidemiology numbers to those samples that have been analysed and the result sent and because of that, they cannot update those results on the NCDC platform.

“For us, we think that it is still part of the deceit in ensuring that the right things are not done.”

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According to Ayuk, the purported action of the government is delaying other processes such as contact tracing of confirmed cases and activation of an isolation centre in the state.

He said the NCDC noticed that there was a problem and declared UCTH as an independent test centre.

 

Politics And Health

The medical practitioner noted that the health agency sent in sample collection kits on June 28 and the first set of samples from five patients, including two doctors, were sent the next day.

He revealed that of the five infected persons, two patients were already on admission at the UCTH isolation centre, one was billed for ENT surgery, and two medical doctors already had respiratory symptoms.

Ayuk stated that he spoke with the doctors who said they have yet to be contacted for contact tracing, stressing that patients were being turned back and dying in their homes.

He lamented that a lot of doctors have gone into self-isolation because the state government has allegedly suppressed testing for COVID-19.

“For us as an association, we remain committed to the welfare of our members and the public and health uses should be taken seriously and politics should not be played with the health of the people,” the NMA Chairman said.

Although he commended the effort on primary prevention of COVID-19 cases, Ayuk faulted the government for failing to move to the second stage which has to do with early testing of suspected cases.

 

Due Process Not Followed

In a swift reaction, the Commissioner for Health in Cross River, Dr Betta Edu, denied the allegations and faulted the decision of the doctors to embark on an indefinite strike.

Edu, who was also a guest on Sunrise Daily, claimed that the NMA has decided to put the lives of residents at risk because of upload of COVID-19 test results.

She insisted that the state government was not aware of the status of the infected patients, stressing that they were not carried along in the verification process of the samples collected.

The commissioner said, “We were not informed about any of these; they said they were an independent centre and they went ahead to send samples which we do not know if they sent, they claimed the samples were sent to Ebonyi State and that they got results back from Ebonyi State.”

She also explained that there were written public health procedures and responses that should be followed for a sample to be verified and moved from one point to the other.

Edu listed these to include identification of the suspected patient, taking note of the history of such person, and sending the sample collected in a perfect condition to the laboratory, should the patient meet the criteria for testing.

“These are the normal public health response and procedures anywhere in the world; so, I don’t know why they would not want to go through the procedures and then you declare a strike in the name of ‘they did not upload your results’; is that the reason to kill people in their numbers?” she questioned.

The commissioner added, “Up until this minute, no information was given to us except for the call by the UCTH Chief Medical Director (CMD) to myself who said that five samples that they sent returned positive.

“We were transferred, the names of five people without phone numbers or contact information for verification and to commence contact tracing.”

COVID-19: Doctors In Cross River Embark On Indefinite Strike

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(FILE PHOTO) Medical personnel prepare to test people for Coronavirus at National Arena stadium in Bucharest June 10, 2020. AFP

 

Doctors in Cross River State have embarked on an indefinite strike over COVID-19 concerns in the state.

The doctors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Medical Association, announced their decision to embark on an industrial action via a letter written to the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire on Sunday.

According to the State NMA Chairman, Dr. Agam Ayuk, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has not included Cross River in its daily update on COVID-19.

The Ayuk-led NMA accused the state government of neglecting “her responsibility of contact tracing, treatment, and care for the five confirmed cases which may not be unconnected with the delay in the publication of the results by NCDC.”

The letter partly read: “Arising from the meeting, all members of Nigerian Medical Association Cross River State branch in public and private hospitals have embarked on a total and indefinite withdrawal of medical services until NCDC and the State Ministry of Health give urgent and prompt attention to the issues raised.

“We trust that the relevant authorities will act decisively, within the shortest possible time to bring to a timely end our total and indefinite withdrawal of medical services.”

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The association also accused the state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Betta Edu, over alleged unethical handling of COVID-19 testing in the state.

The doctors further “referred her to the NMA National Disciplinary Committee and Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) for the unethical handling of COVID-19 testing in the State, thus putting lives at risk and bringing the Association to disrepute.”

This comes a week after the Chief Medical Director of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Ikpeme Ikpeme, had announced that five patients tested positive for COVID-19 in the hospital.

But the state government accused him of spreading falsehood.

Governor Ben Ayadi has severally said that efforts made by his administration have prevented a COVID-19 outbreak in the state.

Governors To Interface With Health Ministries Over Doctors’ Demands

A file photo of members of the NGF at a meeting in Abuja in January 2020.

 

 

Members of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have agreed to interface with the Federal and State Ministries of Health to address the concerns of resident doctors in the country.

This formed part of the resolutions of the governors at the 11th NGF COVID-19 teleconference held on Wednesday.

In a bid to review the concerns of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the governors promised to ensure that backlog of salaries was settled where such exist, and reintegrate residency training in state hospitals where they have been suspended.

They also resolved to ensure the ministries provide protective equipment and ensure sustainable pathways to uphold the welfare of doctors in an effective and efficient manner.

During the meeting, NARD President, Dr Sokomba Aliyu, had conveyed the concerns of resident doctors to the governors.

He decried the non-implementation of residency training in most states of the federation, non-payment of salaries, and the use of inappropriate salary structures in some states.

Dr Aliyu informed the meeting that a state had cut the salaries of civil servants by 25 per cent across the board, noting that the resident doctors were also affected.

According to him, there was no basis for slashing the salaries of his members who instead of staying at home are encountering even added challenges at work.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, presented a newly developed three-year Health Sector COVID-19 Response Action Plan to the governors.

He explained that the plan was aimed at repositioning the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic over a medium-term outlook.

Dr Ehanire gave an assurance that about a million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were available for healthcare workers in the various facilities across the country.

Supported by the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Mohammed Sambo, and the Executive Director/CEO of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, the minister provided clarifications on observations raised by the states on the new guidelines on the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.

Among other resolutions, the governors commended the efforts of those involved in the process of ensuring Nigeria attains its latest status on wild polio.

Read the communique issued at the end of the teleconference below:

ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 11th COVID-19 TELECONFERENCE MEETING OF THE NIGERIA GOVERNORS’ FORUM HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 24th JUNE 2020

We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, Wednesday, June 24, 2020 deliberated on a set of issues affecting the country, especially the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, not just on the citizenry but on the economy as well.

The NGF Chairman provided an update on:

The Forum’s conscious intervention in ending the strike action of the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), who had commenced a nationwide strike on Monday 15th June 2020 over unpaid salaries, improved hazard allowances, the unavailability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline workers and those of their colleagues working in high-risk areas, non-domestication and non-implementation of Medical Residency Training Act.

The harmonisation of Right of Way (RoW) charges across States and bilateral discussions with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, geared towards promoting investments in broadband infrastructure in the country.

The Forum received further updates and presentations from:

The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Chairman of the NGF State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Sub-Committee interfacing with the World Bank to facilitate the provision of Additional Financing for States to support governments’ response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The World Bank Task Team Leader for the SFTAS program, Yue Man Lee who provided an update on the 2019 Annual Performance Assessment and preparatory arrangements for the US$750 Additional Financing.

The Honourable Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, who presented a newly developed 3-year Health Sector COVID-19 Response Action Plan which is aimed at repositioning the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic over a medium-term outlook. The Minister also assured State governments of the availability of about a million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care workers in the various facilities throughout the country.

The Honourable Minister of Health, supported by the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Mohammed Sambo and the Executive Director/CEO of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr Faisal Shuaib also provided clarifications on observations raised by the states on the new guidelines on the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and the need to fast track its release in the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, when increased health response is required and when State governments are experiencing financial strains that threaten their ability to meet counterpart obligations.

The President of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Sokomba Aliyu also made a presentation conveying the concerns of resident doctors including, among others, the non-implementation of residency training in most States of the federation, non-payment of salaries and the use of inappropriate salary structures in some States. Dr. Sokomba Aliyu also told Governors about a particular state where a 25% salary cut across board also affected resident doctors most of whom continued to work, arguing that there was no basis for slashing the salaries of his members who instead of staying at home are encountering even added challenges at work.

Thereafter, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Resolved as follows, to:

Congratulate State governments since the creation of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum for their contribution to the delisting of Nigeria from the global polio map as Nigeria on June 18, 2020 attained the status of being Wild Polio-Virus-Free. The Forum commended the commitment of all stakeholders, including the Federal Ministry of Health, the Dangote Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their strong domestic and global financing support which was instrumental to strengthening the country’s capacity for surveillance and routine immunization. The achievement is a great milestone for the public health history of the country.

Engage with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to take on the new SFTAS Additional Financing as grants to States following the momentum on fiscal accountability and sustainability generated by the current SFTAS programme and the need for sustained funding for State governments in the wake of the fiscal pressure that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommend that the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies engage with the National Assembly Health Committee and State Commissioners of Health to harmonize a workable strategy that will facilitate the speedy release of the BHCPF to fund primary health care activities at the subnational level.

Review the concerns of the Resident doctors and interface with the Federal and State Ministries of health to address the concerns of resident doctors in the country, by settling backlog of salaries where such exist, reintegrating residency training in State Hospitals where they have been suspended, providing protective equipment and ensuring sustainable pathways to uphold the welfare of doctors in an effective and efficient manner.

Governor Kayode Fayemi

Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum

24th June 2020

Resident Doctors Suspend Nationwide Strike

President of National Association of Resident Doctors, Aliyu Sokomba.
President of National Association of Resident Doctors, Aliyu Sokomba.

 

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has suspended its nationwide strike with immediate effect from Monday, June 22.

In a communique issued on Sunday, the association said the decision to suspend the industrial action followed a virtual meeting of over 300 of its members.

NARD President, Aliyu Sokomba said the National Executive Council decided to suspend the strike in order to give the Federal and State Governments time to fulfill the outstanding demands of the association.

READ ALSO: Akeredolu Allegedly Orders CP To Prevent Deputy From Exiting Govt House

According to him, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi had intervened in the matter.

The organisation had called the strike over a range of issues, including the ‘grossly inadequate’ provision of protective equipment and calls for hazard pay for those working on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Other demands focused on improving general welfare and protesting dismissals or pay cuts for doctors in two regions.

Strikes by medical practitioners are common in the country, where the health sector has been underfunded for years.

The authorities fear that any reduction in capacity could severely hamper its ability to tackle the pandemic as the number of cases continues to rise.

The main nationwide doctors union briefly staged a warning strike in commercial hub Lagos over police harassment of its members.

At the moment, Nigeria has recorded nearly 20,000 cases and 506 deaths since the first index case of the virus in February.

More than 800 health workers have been infected by the virus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

 

 

COVID-19 Takes Toll On Mental Health Of Europe’s Medics

This handout picture made available by Madrid´s regional government, Comunidad de Madrid, shows patients arriving at the temporary hospital set up for coronavirus patients at a pavilion in Ifema convention and exhibition center in Madrid, on March 21, 2020. COMUNIDAD DE MADRID / AFP
This handout picture made available by Madrid´s regional government, Comunidad de Madrid, shows patients arriving at the temporary hospital set up for coronavirus patients at a pavilion in Ifema convention and exhibition center in Madrid, on March 21, 2020. COMUNIDAD DE MADRID / AFP

 

Steve, a paramedic in northeast England, contracted the coronavirus two months ago. Then his wife fell ill. Both recovered but throughout they were concerned about passing it on to their two young sons.

“On my return to work, I couldn’t sleep properly, as I was worried that I could still bring the virus home and that I could still get it again,” the 46-year-old told AFP.

“I never thought I would ever have to work on the front line in a pandemic. I do wish it was just a dream and when I wake up the world will be back to how it was.”

Doctors, nurses and paramedics in full protective clothing have become an enduring image of the pandemic.

But stress and anxiety brought on by dealing with the high levels of serious illness and death have become commonplace on the medical frontline.

Now, professional bodies and experts in Europe’s worst-hit countries want more support to tackle the psychological impact on staff — particularly if a second wave strikes.

READ ALSO: EU Agency To Set Up ‘Independent’ Research On COVID-19 Vaccine

“We’ve got all the ingredients for a major risk of post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Belgian mental health expert Xavier Noel.

Noel, a clinical psychologist in Brussels, singled out nurses as of most concern, given their proximity to seriously ill patients and the dying.

“They’ve faced a totally unusual death rate and way of dying, in a more dehumanised context, without the presence of families to support them,” he said.

– Depression and suicide risk –

Europe has officially seen nearly 175,000 deaths from more than two million cases, and across the continent the battle to save lives has taken a punishing toll.

In Belgium, studies indicated that more than twice as many healthcare workers than usual had thought about quitting the profession, and levels of unhappiness were four times higher.

Another found alcohol consumption highest among healthcare professionals.

In France, one healthcare workers’ support association said it was receiving more than 70 calls a day from medics about the crisis.

Some seven in 10 were from women and a handful of calls were even deemed to indicate “an imminent risk of suicide”.

In Spain, more than 50,000 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 — 22 percent of the total cases in the country, according to the health ministry.

Anxiety is rife, a study by Complutense University of Madrid found, adding that just over half of the 1,200 medics it questioned had “depressive symptoms”.

A similar number (53 percent) showed signs “compatible with post-traumatic stress”, the study said.

“We believe an urgent psychological intervention is necessary for this group if the much-feared second wave materialises,” said the report’s authors, Lourdes Luceno Moreno and Jesus Martin Garcia.

“We are going to see professionals emotionally damaged and a health system without the capacity to respond.”

The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan similarly found seven in 10 healthcare professionals in the worst-hit regions of Italy were exhausted.

Nine in 10 had suffered psychological stress. Many reported increased irritability, trouble sleeping and night terrors, as well as emotional breakdowns.

Researcher Serena Barello said the normal stresses of the job had been exacerbated by the increased workload, difficult working conditions and the raft of unknowns about the virus.

That had put their health “seriously at risk, not just physically but also emotionally and psychologically”, she added.

– ‘Hero’ label adds pressure –

In the UK — whose death toll is second only to that of the United States — the country’s only charity offering mental health support for first responders is also warning of a looming crisis.

The Laura Hyde Foundation, set up in memory of a nurse who took her own life in 2016, said it had been inundated with calls from nurses, doctors and paramedics.

Last week, it launched a “No Mask for Mental Health” campaign to raise awareness of the psychological impact of the outbreak and provide support.

“Healthcare staff everywhere have been really touched by all the love they’ve been getting from the public,” said Jennifer Hawkins, clinical lead at the foundation.

“But the label ‘hero’ can, at times, put them under even greater pressure.

“The harsh reality of their work is having a significant impact on mental health — and we must make it OK for medical professionals not to suffer in silence; to prescribe for themselves what they would prescribe for others and ask for help,” Hawkins said.

AFP

Curfew: Lagos NMA Directs Doctors, Health Workers To Stay At Home From 6pm Today

 

The Lagos State branch of the Nigerian Medical Association has directed its members to sit at home from 6 pm today, Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

This follows the conflicting order restricting the movement of essential workers amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

In a statement signed by the Chairman, Dr. Saliu Oseni and the Secretary of the association, Dr. Moronkola Ramon, the NMA deplored the comment of the Commissioner of Police in Lagos state to the effect that essential workers, including doctors and other health workers, are not exempted from the restriction.

“We have observed that despite the directive of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, which was clear on the exemption of essential workers including doctors and other health workers from the ongoing lockdown movement restriction.

“The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, has been issuing conflicting directives on social and mainstream media to effect that essential workers including doctors and other health workers are not exempted.

The association revealed that the confusion has led to the harassment and intimidation of its members and other health workers, including stopping an ambulance from conveying a patient from getting to its destination.

“As a direct result of the conflicting directives of the government and Lagos State Commissioner of Police, the Lagos State branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), was inundated yesterday (Tuesday, May 19, 2020) evening with several cases of harassment and intimidation of doctors and other health-workers by officers and men of the Lagos State police command on the direct order of the commissioner of police to the extent that even ambulances carrying patients with emergency cases were impounded.

“The NMA has resolved that it is presently unsafe for members to continue to provide healthcare services under the arrangement”.

The association vowed that its members will not go back to work until a written statement is issued by the government and police authorities stating in clear terms the status of essential workers as the curfew enforcement continues.

“All medical doctors in Lagos State are hereby advised to proceed on a sit-at-home, in their best interest starting from 6 pm today Wednesday, May 20, 2020, indefinitely, until otherwise advised”.

See Full Statement Below:

 

 

The Inspector-General of Police had on Tuesday rescinded the order restricting the movement of essential workers.

Earlier in the day, Channels Television reported on how essential workers were restricted from moving within Lagos at the beginning of the 8 pm curfew imposed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

According to security officials enforcing the order, health workers and journalists could not be allowed to move around after 8 pm.

However, in a statement, IGP Mohammed Adamu said essential workers can now go about their essential duties.

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