COVID-19 AND WELFARE OF MEDICAL PERSONNEL —
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COVID-19 AND WELFARE OF MEDICAL PERSONNEL

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Although it is legendary that as a country, Nigeria hardly appreciates hardwork and patriotic service, at least not as much as the way it promotes mediocrity. The advent of Coronavirus has made it more revealing. This is exactly so considering the way medical and allied workers who have been making huge sacrifices in order to contain the deadly pandemic are being treated.

Not once, the Nigerian Medical Association in conjunction with other medical workers had threatened to embark on strike actions as a last resort to press home their rightful demand for a well due allowances.

Is it not shameful that while other countries around the world are standing in loudest ovation to their medical workers for standing by their governments to fight the pandemic, we allow ours to make street demand through endless protests before they are paid duty allowances?

Medical service is a critical sector that must be taken with all seriousness and the Federal and State Governments, as well as relevant authorities are expected to ensure that service providers are not only well remunerated but are properly taken care of in line with the demands of their services.

That is why it is sad that in Ondo State, nurses of University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital, Akure, are being owed months of salaries by the state government. The nurses have drawn battle line in fierce protest in order to get the attention of the state government. The nurses are demanding, among others, prompt payment of all outstanding salaries and arrears, regularisation of the slashed salaries, provision of Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) and adequate equipments to work with.

According to some media reports, some nurses were employed in batches due to shortage of members of staff since June last year; however, the newly employed nurses kept working for several months without being paid by their employers.

One of the protesting nurses was quoted as saying that, “These nurses were there during the outbreak of Lassa fever and the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the State and they risked their lives despite not being paid. Shortly after, the salaries started being paid haphazardly with a month salary paid after every two to three months. So, many of these professional nurses had to start borrowing to even get to work and meet up with other needs.

“As it stands now, five months salaries are still being owed without any hope of being paid. All their efforts to demand for their salaries were sabotaged. Worthy of note is that a good number of these new nurses tested positive for COVID-19 despite not being renumerated. Asides these, the single and double qualified nurses in the same institution experienced massive salary slashes earlier this year,” the protester said.

This is far from being fair. We call on the Federal, Lagos and Ondo State Governments to quickly address this disturbing situation immediately. It does not serve any good interest to treat workers, especially medical personnel who take big risk to take care of the sick and weak in the society.

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