Coronavirus: Over 3,000 Health Workers Infected Globally

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on COVID-19 virus at the WHO headquaters on March 11, 2020 in Geneva./ AFP
A file photo of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, at a press briefing on COVID-19 virus at the WHO headquarters in Geneva./ AFP

 

 

More than 3,000 health workers have been infected since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, in a series of tweets on Tuesday to mark the 2020 World Health Day, said many other health workers had paid the ultimate price in the fight against the virus.

“When health workers are exposed or become sick, they have to go home and stay there for at least two weeks. Hospitals scramble to find replacements,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.

He added, “That’s why we must ensure that health workers have the medical masks and other personal protective equipment they need.”

As of April 6, there had been 1.3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus across the world, with 76,507 deaths.

Nearly 300,000 people have recovered from the COVID-19 infection.

 

Doing The Unthinkable

Dr Ghebreyesus used the opportunity to highlight the vital role of nurses and midwives, in commemoration of the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

He said, “It may not seem that there are many reasons for celebration. The world is in the grip of the most severe health crisis of our time. The COVID-19 pandemic is reminding us of the vital roles of nurses and midwives play.

“Every day, nurses are putting themselves at risk to alleviate suffering and save lives. They’re reorganising wards to open more beds for COVID-19 patients, while continuing to provide care for other patients with urgent health needs, including women in labour.

“They’re taking stock of equipment and lending it across units. They’re learning on the job with information that changes daily – even hourly. Nurses are doing the unthinkable.

“Because critical COVID-19 patients are isolated, the last human touch they may feel is that of a nurse’s hand. The kindness of caring for strangers has never been more important.

“I hear stories about nurses video-calling family members late in the night, so they can say goodbye to a dying relative. Health workers are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, they’re also among the most at risk.”

US Asks Health Workers To Apply For Visas Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

US Embassy Suspends ‘Dropbox’ Process For Visa Renewals In Nigeria
Photo: [email protected]

 

The United States government has called on health experts seeking to work in the country to apply for visas.

It made the call in a statement on Friday, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has killed many people with thousands infected in that country.

“We encourage medical professionals with an approved U.S. non-immigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129, I-140, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor programme (DS-2019), particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to review the website of their nearest embassy or consulate for procedures to request a visa appointment,” the statement published on www.travel.state.gov said.

The US also asked other foreign medical professionals already in the country to consult with their sponsor to extend their programmes in the country.

It noted that ‘J-1 programme’ for foreign medical residents can be extended one year at a time for up to seven years.

The government, however, explained that the expiration date on a visa does not determine how long a foreigner can stay in the US.

Resident Doctors Ask FG To Protect Health Workers Against Coronavirus

 

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has called on the Nigerian government to protect health workers across the country from getting infected with coronavirus.

The medical practitioners made the call in a statement on Saturday by the publicity secretary of NARD, Dr Egbogu Stanley.

They specifically directed their request to the Federal Ministry of Health, managements of healthcare institutions, and relevant parastatals of government at all levels across the country.

The doctors asked the government to ensure the provision and availability of N95 FFP3 facemasks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in various hospitals for effective prevention of the virus.

They also urged the government to ensure persons travelling into the country were properly screened at all points of entry.

The group advised health workers to maintain a high index of suspicion as they go about their duties, stressing that while coronavirus infection has a low fatality rate, its victims may succumb to it if not well managed.

It, therefore, asked Nigerians to observe universal basic precautions such as avoiding direct contact with sick people without adequate protection, as well as unnecessary touching of eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands.

The NARD also urged the people to observe good cough etiquette and keep a distance of at least five feet from someone who has a chronic cough.

It asked them to ensure that surfaces were clean and disinfected regularly with household spray, while hands should be washed with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

The doctors advised health workers and patients with symptoms such as cough, fever, and shortness of breath to wear facemasks regularly.

It gave the assurance to partner with the Federal Ministry of Health to contain the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.

Health Workers Union Threatens To Embark On Strike

 

The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) has issued a threat to take industrial actions over what it describes as indifference on the part of the Federal Government to resolve their labour dispute.

In a press statement by JOHESU’s President, Mr Josiah Biobelemonye, the health workers threatened to resume their industrial action any time from now.

The development comes two weeks after the union issued a 15-day ultimatum, asking the government to implement a new salary adjustment structure.

READ ALSO: APC Will Not Field Candidates For Governorship, NASS, State Assembly Elections In Zamfara — INEC

They also want the government to pay all salaries of members withheld between April and May last year.

The five affiliate unions of JOHESU are the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals and Medical and Health Workers’ Union.

Others include the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions and Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria.

Ondo Kidnap: Pregnant Doctor Regains Freedom

20 Feared Killed By Fire In Ondo Road Accident

 

One of the three health workers of the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State abducted days ago by armed men has been released.

The Spokesperson of Ondo State Police Command, SP Femi Joseph, confirmed the release.

The victim, Jumoke Ayeku a medical doctor, was said to have been set free as a result of her being heavily pregnant.

A staff of the hospital who also confirmed Ayeku’s release to Channels Television noted that an undisclosed amount of money was paid as ransom to secure her release.

Read Also: Gunmen Kidnap Three Federal Medical Officers In Ondo

The two other abducted workers have, however, remained in captivity and Joseph says the police is working tirelessly to secure their release.

The health workers were kidnapped on Wednesday, while on their way from Akure, the state capital, to Owo.

A colleague of the victims in a phone interview with Channels Television said the abductors had demanded a sum of N50 million as ransom.

Red Cross Condemns Killing Of Aid Worker In Borno

19 Feared Killed, 40 Houses Razed As Boko Haram Attack Borno Village

 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has condemned what it described as the “tragic killing” of its colleague Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, who was abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in March.

The head of the ICRC delegation in Abuja, Eloi Fillion, in a statement on Monday said, “We are devastated by the murder of our colleague Saifura,”.

“Saifura moved to Rann to selflessly help those in need. Our thoughts are with her family and other loved ones at this incredibly difficult time.”

The agency also appealed to the armed group to immediately release the second ICRC midwife and another health-care worker who were also abducted in March.

“We urge those still holding our colleague Hauwa and Alice: release these women. Like Saifura, they are not part of the fight. They are a midwife and a nurse. They are daughters, a wife, and a mother – women with families that depend on them,” said Fillion.

“Their families and friends miss them dearly and will not give up the hope of seeing them again soon. There is no ideology or religious law that could justify doing any harm to them,” she added.

Saifura, 25, was a devoted midwife and mother of two.

The ICRC, however, said it would not give details of her death or comment on the identity of the women’s abductors as well as their motives.

The agency said in the past six months of their abduction, it has made sustained and committed efforts to secure the release of all three workers.

It, however, said it will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that Hauwa and Alice are released and can return to their families immediately.

Calabar Health Workers Protest Against Old Salary Scale

 

Workers of the College of Health Technology Calabar, (COHTECH) have taken to major streets of the Cross River state capital, demanding the implementation of a seven-year-old salary scale which was approved in 2011.

The protesting workers include members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP).

According to them, COHTECH remains the only tertiary institution in the state that is yet to benefit from the Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Salary Structure, (CONPCASS).

In order to ensure their demands are met, the two unions on Wednesday shut down the school located at Mary-Slessor in Calabar as they commenced a three-day warning strike.

They also took their protest to the Government House, where they were addressed by the state’s Special Adviser on Labour and Productivity, Mr Effiong Ita Umo.

He assured them that the state government will the matter and appealed to them to be patient.

Saraki, JOHESU To Meet Again On Monday Over Health Workers’ Strike

Senate President Bukola Saraki

 

Senate President Bukola Saraki will meet the leadership of the Joint Health Sector Unions for the second time on Monday, as the Senate continues its quest to halt the lingering strike embarked by health workers under the aegis of the union.The Senate President’s media office said the meeting will hold in Dr Saraki’s office by 3 pm.

Dr Saraki also confirmed the meeting via tweets.

“Following my meeting last Friday with the Ministers of Labour and Health, I will be having a follow up meeting tomorrow with the leadership of JOHESU, the second in under a week,” he tweeted.

The health workers had embarked on strike in April, accusing the Federal Government of failing to honour terms of agreements it reached JOHESU since 2009, especially the agreement reached on September 30, 2017, which had a time frame of five weeks.

As part of efforts to end the lingering strike which has pitched JOHESU against the NMA, the Senate President held a meeting with JOHESU’s and the Minister of Labour, Productivity and Employment, Dr.Chris Ngige and Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewole, on Friday morning.

Since the meeting, the Senate President hinted that some progress had been made to bring the strike to an end as reports suggest the Federal Government has made a better offer to the union.

He said, “If it is true that government has improved on its offers to JOHESU, it will be desirable for the health workers to also stretch out a hand of fellowship – in good faith – to meet the government mid-way and accept the offer, so that we can finally resolve this matter and have a win-win situation for the union, the government and the Nigerian people who make use of our public health institutions.”

Dr Saraki’s meeting with the striking workers followed the resolution on May15, 2018, to intervene in the crisis which it observed could hamper Nigeria’s ability to prevent or react to another Ebola virus outbreak in Nigeria.

The concerns followed the Ebola outbreak in Congo.

Health Workers Strike: Buhari’s Inaction Height of Insensitivity, Says PDP

Remaining Chibok Girls Will Never Be Forgotten, Says Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says the refusal by President Muhammadu Buhari to address the devastating strike action by health workers across the country, is a clear manifestation of insensitivity to the plight and suffering of Nigerians.

In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the Party lamented the anguish of hundreds of Nigerians who it said were abandoned and dying by the day in public hospitals.

“Is it not the height of insensitivity that while Nigerians in dire need of medical attention are languishing, President Buhari abandoned them without any form of intervention and embarked on medical tourism in London with our common patrimony,” the PDP questioned.

The party also criticized the President for failing to summon an emergency meeting to find solutions to the problems even after his return from the UK.
They said he rather chose to organise a political rally in Jigawa state for what it described as a “doomed 2019 re-election bid”.

Furthermore, it blamed the “escalation of killings and bloodletting” in states across the country on the “aloofness by the government” saying unlike the APC, the PDP prioritizes the health, security and welfare of Nigerians.

The statement read in part: “In the PDP, the health, security and welfare of Nigerians remain pivotal to us and that is why we feel pained that compatriots are dying in their numbers because of the refusal of the Buhari-led APC administration to address the health workers’ strike.”

It, therefore, asserted that Nigerians have chosen to stop the Buhari administration from continuing beyond 2019 as it had become clear that it “has no agenda for the health sector”.

The PDP also called on humanitarian organisations and the international community to come to the aid of the nation.

Furthermore, it pleaded with the health workers to be more open to ways to solve the problem, so as to “forestall an outbreak of epidemic and health crisis”.

Health Workers Strike Threatens Ebola Response In Nigeria

FILE PHOTO

 

Nigerian health workers’ unions on Friday threatened to withhold help for emergency measures against Ebola because of an ongoing strike over pay and conditions.

“The strike will go on as long as the government refuses to honour the existing agreement with us,” chairman of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, told AFP.

The government this week ordered screening of travellers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries after a fresh outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever there.

But Josiah said: “None of our members will be involved in any Ebola screening until the government does the needful.”

JOHESU comprises pharmacists, nurses, laboratory technologists and other paramedics in the public health sector, except doctors and dentists.

They walked out on April 18 over demands for pay parity with doctors and improved welfare.

The strike has paralysed services in federal government-owned hospitals and health centres.

On Wednesday, JOHESU extended the strike by directing its affiliates in Nigeria’s 36 states to join following deadlock in talks with the government.

Nigeria does not share a border with DR Congo but memories are still fresh of an Ebola outbreak in 2014 that killed seven people out of 19 confirmed cases.

The World Health Organization at the time praised the country’s response for containing the spread of the virus, which left some 11,000 people dead in wider West Africa.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) said relevant agencies, including the port health services, have been mobilised to ensure the safety of passengers and other users.

“All equipment and personnel used in combatting the virus in 2014 are still very much at the airports,” said FAAN spokeswoman Henrietta Yakubu.

“We have always had thermal scanners in our airports that monitor the temperature of passengers and capture their pictures. We still have hand sanitisers in our restrooms too.

“When passengers walk past the scanners, it registers their temperature. If yours is high, you are pulled aside for observation.”

AFP

Maternal/Child Deaths: NPHCDA To Engage 100,000 Community Health Workers

Maternal/Child Deaths: NPHCDA To Deploy 100,000 Community Health Workers
This file photo shows a mother breastfeeding her child

 

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has revealed plans to engage at least 100,000 health workers under the Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) programme.

The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Kaduna State, said the plan was aimed at reducing the high rate of maternal and child deaths in the country.

Addressing a meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders’ Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery, he stressed that the deployment of healthcare agents to rural communities became necessary as Nigeria loses about one million women and children to preventable medical conditions annually.

Dr Shuaib blamed the deaths on the absence of trained medical personnel and adequate facilities in the affected communities.

The meeting was convened to review the progress made in the reduction of child and maternal deaths in 2017, and to develop high priority intervention in rural communities in 2018.

Part of the strategies agreed at the gathering was to adopt a community-based programme where individuals with basic criteria would be trained and deployed to attend to basic medical needs of the people in their communities.

The NPHCDA boss informed the committee that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the programme should be held in every state of the federation.

“We have a total of almost 10,000 wards in Nigeria and by calculations, we would be getting nearly 200,000 CHIP agents spread across Nigeria and this would be the largest aggregations of community health workers anywhere in Africa,” he said.

“Every year, up to a million women and children under five (years) die from the totally preventable cause; our women die during pregnancy and our kids are dying from preventable courses such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and these deaths happen before individuals get to the clinic or any health facility.

“These CHIP agents will be living and working in these communities to find out how community members are doing and where people are found to be sick, they can diagnose and give free medication to the community members,” he added.

On his part, the deputy chairman of the committee Mr Samila Mera decried the high rate of maternal and newborn deaths as a national tragedy which requires concerted effort to tackle.

He, however, assured Dr Shuaib that the traditional institution would key into the government’s initiative, in order to reduce the burden of such avoidable calamities on their people.

Trump To Protect US Health Workers Who Oppose Abortion

US President Donald Trump    PHOTO: SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

United States officials on Thursday announced the creation of a new office to protect the religious rights of medical providers who refuse to perform procedures they say are against their beliefs, such as abortion.

The office, part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Civil Rights division, is also aimed at supporting health care professionals who oppose procedures such as gender reassignment operations.

President Donald Trump “promised the American people that his administration would vigorously uphold the rights of conscience and religious freedom. That promise is being kept today,” said acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan, as he announced the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.

Groups that support abortion and the rights of sexual minorities fear this could result in discrimination in access to medical treatment.

“No one should be denied health care — including safe, legal abortion — because of their health provider’s beliefs,” said Planned Parenthood, which provides legal abortions.

“Trans people already face obstacles to getting care,” the non-profit group said in a statement.

The new government office was announced on the eve of Friday’s “March for Life,” an annual rally in Washington that attracts abortion opponents from across the country.

Trump will address the marchers via video link, the White House said Wednesday.

The March for Life marks an anniversary which infuriates its participants — the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on “Roe v. Wade,” which legalized abortion across the United States in 1973.

AFP