The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on Friday disclosed that at least 20 Nigerian doctors have lost their lives to COVID-19 in the last one week.
It therefore urged the general public to adhere strictly to the non-pharmaceutical protocols of hand washing, sanitizing, properly wearing face masks, and maintaining social distancing. It also urged patients to ensure full disclosure of medical history of COVID-19 or COVID-19 related occurrences, so that health workers can better protect themselves while providing quality health care services.
The Association further decried the paltry sum of N5, 000 paid monthly to doctors as hazard allowance, calling on the government to ensure an upward review of their welfare packages
The Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), FCT Chapter, Dr. Enema Amodu, made this known during a briefing in Abuja.
He said, “Everywhere around the world at this time, we are facing a second wave, and this second wave is so overwhelming and more catastrophic because a lot of people have gone back to the way of doing things thinking that the virus is over, and it is gone and they have let their guards down.
“For those of us in the health sector, we have lost quite a number of colleagues in the last one week alone. Across the nation, we have lost professors, consultants, residents (both senior and junior), very senior medical officers and nurses – some of them you may not hear of and some you may hear depending on the circumstances and whatever positions they are occupying. This goes to show that this virus is very much with us and they call it a second wave, but it is actually a continuum because it never really left us.
“I am here this afternoon on Christmas Day to solidarise first with the families of our members that have lost loved ones. I want to make it public that we are with you in this very trying and grieving moment of sadness over the loss of our colleagues who most likely are the breadwinners of their families. We also want to use this opportunity to talk to our patients; when you come to us in the hospitals and clinics, please oblige us and wear your mask. Tell us the truth about your past medical condition and don’t hold any information back.
“The figure of the number of our colleagues that have died is evolving everyday but as I am standing here, I got a call from a colleague who is in an isolation centre, and he is not sounding very good. I can give you a figure now that by evening it will change. But I can tell you from the top of my head across the country, we have lost not less than 20 doctors in the last one week.
By the grace of God, I am standing here today as a survivor because as an ENT consultant, I inadvertently saw a patient that I did not know had COVID-19 and she did not tell me, and she knew. I was exposed and contracted the virus; I developed symptoms but by the grace of God my colleagues rallied around me and I survived.
“Our patients need to follow the laid-down rules and we are not degrading or insulting anybody. As you enter the hospital premises, most hospitals now have facilities for you to wash your hands and ensure that you wear your mask – please comply. Also, when you sit with a doctor, ensure you keep a safe distance.”
Amodu added: “The President of the NMA, Prof. Innocent Ujah, has not rested on his oars since this pandemic broke out. I was privileged to be part of a team that went to see the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr. Femi Gbajabiamila. The President put forward the issue of our hazard allowance. There is no need to hide anything anymore. I can tell you that our hazard allowance is N5, 000 per month. The Speaker of the House of Representatives has assured my President that they will do something about it and we believe he will do something about it because he is a legislator that believes that the health sector is key to development.
“Our members are dying and my colleagues are suffering and angry. But we have taken an oath and that is why we are still providing services, and we will continue to provide services. We just asked the government to do their own bit and help us so that we can change the narrative of the health sector.
“We hope that the government will start off the new year with a reviewed hazard allowance. But I am not oblivious of the processes for it to be gazette and captured in our salaries and wages. We expect that the government will expedite action because we need this show of solidarity from the government because the virus is still very much with us but we are still working. Giving a time frame now will seem as though we are trying to issue a threat or ultimatum but we are not. We expect the government to do the needful.”