From Alfred Babs, Ilorin
Members of the National Association of Nurses and Midwives, (NANNM) working at the General Hospital, Ilorin on Thursday down tools in protest against what they described as poor and risky condition of work.
Speaking during their protest in the hospital premises, the health workers claimed the state government did not provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for them in the accident and emergency units as well as other units despite the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
The nurses and midwives also said they now work bi-shift of ten to fourteen hours daily without provision of call food or allowances for nurses as being provided for some other health workers.
The auditor of the association, Funke Alo, added that designated pick-up points for workers on duty are few, which makes workers go through stress before finding their way to the pick-up points.
While accusing the government and top management of disregarding their letter where they pointed out their challenges and the risk involved in their working condition, the protesting health workers at the General Hospital said they would not resume work until the issues were addressed.
Efforts to get the response of Kwara state government proved abortive as the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Raji Razak did not pick all calls made to his telephone number while the text message sent to the number was not replied as at the time of sending the report.
In another development, Kwara state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has directed its members not to consult or treat any patient without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
In a statement jointly signed by the Chairman and Secretary, Dr Kolade Solagberu and Dr Majeed Mohammed respectively on Wednesday in Ilorin, the association said it noted that there was inadequacy of PPEs in majority of the public and private hospitals in the state.
The NMA also said there was lack of preparedness for the pandemic by majority of the hospitals in the state.
”We commend the efforts of the state government on COVID-19 in equipping the Kwara State Isolation Centre at the Specialist Hospital, Sobi.
”But there is lack of motivation for the front line health workers in terms of securing life insurance, indemnity and other incentives.
”All doctors/health workers should be provided with the appropriate PPEs in the line of duty in all private and public hospitals.
”Government and heads of hospitals should make provision for these items and they should be readily available for use.
”In view of this, the State Executive Committee (SEC) has therefore directed its members not to consult or treat patients without PPEs,” it said.
The association added that basic and intensive care equipment such as infrared thermometers, monitors, ventilators and others should be made available.
”The isolation centre should be well furnished and manned by trained personnel,” it said.
The NMA also encouraged doctors to have high index of suspicion as many cases may be asymptomatic.
”Lockdown should be properly enforced and there should be availability of public ambulances and emergency medical teams to convey emergencies to the hospital.
”We enjoin the public to avoid panic and stigmatisation as COVID-19 is not a death sentence, ” the association said.
It, however, encouraged exposed members of the public to the two COVID-19 cases in the state to volunteer information freely and ensure self-quarantine.
Regarding the index case of COVID-19 in the state which unduly exposed some of its members, it said the Ethical Committee of the association would investigate and submit its report to SEC.
”We also advise University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital(UITH) to follow due process on the matter and the association will follow it to a logical conclusion,” the NMA said.
It, however, proposed a compensation package for front line doctors and health workers while calling on federal and state governments to make available a diagnostic centre in each state of the federation.