Nurses under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) and the Forum of Local Government Nurses and Midwives (FOLGONM) have condemned what they described as governments’ insensitivity to the plight of nurses, as frontline caregivers in the raging global pandemic.
The nurses, who berated government at both federal and state levels, for its negligence of their welfare without adequate provision of personal protective equipments (PPEs), flat rate hazard allowance, without special compensation for crucial services as implemented in other climes during the COVID-19 outbreak, said the newly introduced graduated emolument for health workers is rather discriminatory and demotivating.
In a special interview with the President of NANNM, Com. Abdurafiu Adeniji, he said healthcare interventions in the country may not be successful, if those at the helms of affairs will continue to perpetuate the act of sidelining those set of health workers who are in the majority in the healthcare team.
“Government attitude no matter how well intentioned is not good enough as far as the fight against COVID-19 pandemic is concerned. The pockets of protests being witnessed is a testimony to the fact that there is no way any intervention in the health sector can be successful without full stakeholders’ participation.
“We have engaged governments severally and we keep reiterating the fact that attempting to address public issues while excluding nurses and midwives and other frontline health professionals at the policy formulation level is an exercise in futility”, Adeniji asserted.
The nurses president further listed their grouse with governments noting that the provision of hand gloves, face mask, protective booth, eye glasses, gowns and other equipment are in short supply.
“The compensation for the exigencies of this crucial services is demotivating. The government approved hazard allowances for healthcare professionals are at a flat rate. But what is flying now is graduated emolument for a category of health workers. This is discriminatory and demotivating. While there is no commendation for allowances spelt out presently, the discriminatory nature of healthcare policy is demotivating and it will definitely not encourage high productivity and harmony in health sector.
“We are talking of issue of life and death, and the value of life is not graded, hence there must not be ranking in compensating healthcare professionals as it is presently been proposed. As combatant in the war field tackling COVID-19, this should be addressed to attain equality”, he charged.
Expressing the experiences of nurses in Lagos, where the battle rages most, the Lagos NANNM Chairperson, Mrs Blessing Israel also decried the discriminatory disposition of the Lagos State COVID-19 Committee to the association, saying they were not recognised on board.
She said: “NANNM is expected to be a member of the Lagos State COVID-19 Committee, as we are major stakeholders with largest members in the healthcare system, but to our greatest surprise, we were not invited to the committee”.
Israel however noted that the state branch on its own constituted a committee that moves from unit to unit, most importantly units that lack PPE and other materials, and try to supply them, in order to keep their members safe in the line of duty.
On the invitation of Chinese doctors by the federal government to come and assist the healthcare team in the country, she took her stand with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), as they have said such move is unnecessary.
For the National Chairman of FOLGONM, Com. Femi Agbede, the proposed federal government’s initiative to bring 18-man Chinese experts to assist the Nigerian healthcare team in the fight against ÇOVID-19 is absolutely out of place.
“I’m completely against this plan. We might end up compounding the problems in our hands. In what capacity will they function? Is it as experts or direct caregivers. Don’t forget our socio -cultural differences.
“Again coming from another country, they will require to be quarantined for at least 14 days on arrival, and based on standards and protocols, they must pass through regulatory body before they can operate here. While one appreciates the efforts of FG, experiences and expertise can be shared through other means without necessarily coming down” he quipped.
Our chat with the Lagos FOLGONM Chairperson, Mrs Mary Lateef-Yusuf, revealed that all Primary Health Centres are shut down, with the exception of flagship centres, which run 24 hours services.
She further disclosed that there’s no coverall PPE wears in any of the facility throughout the 57 LGAs/LCDAs. “This is principally because we are not expected to manage any COVID-19 cases”.
However, the state FOLGONM Chairperson quickly added that in response to the increasing number of community transmission, the LGA commenced training for different categories of staff on active case ssearch.
On Chinese experts invitation to Nigeria, she expressed mixed feelings, but emphasized on the provision of more PPEs.
“Well, it may be necessary if the projection becomes real, but for now all resources should be channelled towards procurement of more PPEs and respirators for all the Isolation centres”, she noted.