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Group advocates attractive welfare package, health insurance for health workers

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HEALTH Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) has advocated attractive welfare package and health insurance cover for health workers combating COVID-19 in the country.

The association also urged the government to ensure that health workers are properly equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medically critical supplies to ensure they can safely and appropriately care for patients with Covid-19.

HEWAN in a statement jointly signed by its National President, MrsChiomaObinna and the National General Secretary, Mrs Lucy Osuizigbo-Okechukwu, also demanded that all funds raised for the Coronavirus fight should be judiciously used and also accounted for.

“The presidency said it’s also releasing a N5 billion special intervention fund to NCDC to equip, expand and provide personnel to its facilities and laboratories across the country. We also appeal that the fund be adequately utilised to respond to suspected cases of the virus.”

However, it commended the effort of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the private sector, led by AlikoDangote Foundation and Access Bank, which have set up a coalition aimed at raising N120bn as well as well-meaning individuals, who have contributed towards the fight against COVID – 19 in Nigeria. 

“We also commend the Lagos State Government for implementing various strategies to ensure containment of the virus and preserve the health of citizens; we urge other state governments to emulate same.”

Expressing concern with the rate at which the cases are rising in Nigeria, it observed that there could be more cases of individuals infected with the virus if appropriate measures are not taken to limit the spread of infection in the states and within the healthcare delivery system.  

Therefore, it called on the federal government to increase the number of testing centres across the country which are currently inadequate and mobilise human and material resources at its disposal to immediately stop the spread of the virus before it becomes too late as WHO had warned.

“Our healthcare system is further threatened by the call by the United States government asking medical professionals seeking to work in America to apply for work visa at the nearest US embassies as part of measures to strengthen the health system to contain the coronavirus pandemic in America.’

“In the statement published on www.travel.state.gov on Friday, the US government also directed foreign medical professionals already in America to consult with their sponsors to extend their programmes.”

“Considering how Nigerian trained health workers leave the country in droves owing to poor welfare and working conditions, the country cannot afford to lose any of its health personnel to foreign nations at this critical time when they are needed most.” 

“Healthcare workers are desperately needed to respond to the outbreak, which prompted the recalling of retired doctors and nurses by the federal government.”

“But these healthcare workers represent one of the most vulnerable populations in terms of contracting the highly virulent disease due to the nature of their jobs and therefore, must be adequately taken care of.”

“Research effort is vital if Nigeria wants to end this pandemic and prevent future tragedies. The pace and impact of the spread of this virus is unprecedented. Therefore, we urge government at all levels to fund continued research efforts for vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.”

“We call on Nigerians to follow the guidelines provided by the government, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control on preventive and protective measures against the pandemic.”

  “HEWAN will continue to work with stakeholders and agencies in the healthcare sector and continue to pass on the right information to deepen the public understanding of COVID-19.”

The Health Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) is an umbrella body of all health/science reporters and editors (TV, RADIO, PRINT and Online), in Nigeria, registered first as members of Nigeria Union of Journalists( NUJ).

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