Pharmacists and nurses in their various associations, including the National Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) and National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) have commended the swift response of the Lagos State Government in increasing the hazard allowance of health workers in the state by 400 per cent, while charging the Federal Government to emulate such good gestures in boosting the morale of healthcare practitioners in the country, while combating the global pandemic.
The healthcare practitioners who described the action of the Lagos State governor as a welcomed intervention and as a befitting fight against the deadly COVID-19, requested the Federal Government to come up with a tangible and sustainable scheme that will commensurate with the degree of risks healthcare professionals are taking by putting their lives on the line while caring for patients in Isolation centres and other hospitals in the country.
In an exclusive interview with the National Chairman of AHAPN, Dr Kingsley Amibor, he said: “The increment in hazard allowance by the Lagos State Government is coming at a time when healthcare workers in Lagos have virtually been stretched to the limit, and so we can assure you that it is a heart-warming news. The fact that it cuts across all shades of workers without discrimination is additional reassurance and a motivation for the health workers to put in their best to change the narrative in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, in favour of humanity
“The Lagos State move is also a challenge and stimulus to both the federal government and other state governments to do likewise, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). You need to understand that healthcare workers are especially at risk of contracting the virus because of the risks they are exposed to, including working with inadequate personal protective equipment, making them vulnerable to viral attacks”.
The AHAPN National Chairman also went ahead like Oliver Twist to demand for a comprehensive insurance for all healthcare workers in addition to improvement in their work environment.
He requested thus: “Like Oliver Twist, I wish to place a demand on the Lagos State Government to go a step further to embark on comprehensive insurance of all healthcare workers in addition to improving working conditions, provision of necessary equipment and beautification of hospital environments”.
He Continued: The Federal Government on her part should equally increase salaries of all healthcare workers, including hazard allowance. Additionally, the federal government should ensure provision of minimum of 3 ventilators in every tertiary health institution in Nigeria as a way of reducing mortality from the Coronavirus pandemic”.
The NANNM President, Com. Abdurafiu Adeniji also bought the views of AHAPN, in appreciating the Governor of Lagos State for the hazard allowance increment, while urging the federal government to swing into action by replicating the gesture of Lagos in all states across the federation.
He said: “The recently released circular is just a palliative measure. An as intervention programme, it is commendable, but while we commend this pace setting step of Lagos state government, it should not go unnoticed that this measure is not a product of collective bargaining process. Equally this is still falling below the expectation of our professional association”, he emphasized.
As requested earlier by Amibor, Adeniji further asked for the implementation of a life insurance scheme for all health workers, as that is the only compensation that is comparable with the magnitude of risk involved in the fight against COVID-19.
“We therefore urge the Federal Government to come up with a tangible and sustainable scheme that will commensurate with the type of the risk the healthcare professionals are taking by putting their lives on line to safe the country from the pandemonium of the pandemic.
“The government should as matter of urgency introduce an insurance scheme for health workers learning from the effect of this pandemic. A life Insurance Scheme will be required to take care of the magnitude of the danger we the healthcare professionals are taking in the practice of our professional callings.
“The government should engage necessary apparatus known to trade union law in Nigeria and come up with an acceptable scheme”, he emphasized.
In his own reaction to the development, the immediate past Chairman of Lagos State NANNM, Com. Olurotimi Awojide also lauded the state government for its efforts in motivating healthcare workers to give the best of their services in rescuing the lives of Lagosians from the global infection, while requesting for a permanent review in health workers salaries.
Awojide, through his verified twitter handle said: “We appreciate our ever dynamic and proactive governor for this gesture. This will go a long way in boosting the morale of health workers especially in this era of pandemic. We thank you sir, while we await a permanent review in our salaries”.
Also, the Lagos State Chairperson of AHAPN, Dr (Mrs) Titilayo Onedo, commended Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for the increment in the hazard allowance, saying it is well deserved, as hospital pharmacists are highly exposed to different risks in the process of combating the spread of the virus.
She listed some of the dangers they are vulnerable to as follows: “exposure to fumes from chemicals in the production of hand sanitizers in large volume; exposure to the risk of contacting the virus during one on one interaction with patients be it at the point of prescription assessment or prescriptions validation or pharmacists counselling of both in patients or outpatients”, Onedo explained.
She added that timely implementation of the of the increment would be wonderful and will motivate health workers,” knowing that someone cares and appreciates your effort will want to make you do more and give your best at such a time.like this”.