Nigeria Is In A State Of War With COVID-19 – Nigerian Health Workers’ Unions

The Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB) and other unions of health workers have said Nigeria is in a state of war with the COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes amidst the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria with over 100, 000 confirmed cases.

Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB) is a coalition of over 80 civil society organisations (CSOs) and organised labour, led by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN).

In a statement signed by Falana on behalf of the groups, the health workers warned that the second wave of the pandemic may record higher casualty figures unless immediate and drastic efforts are taken.

The groups condemned the Nigerian authorities for not including scientists in its various committees, stating that this would undermine efforts to develop indigenous vaccine as a long-term strategy of fighting the pandemic.

They therefore called for inclusion of health workers, experts and scientists to take the lead in the fight against COVID-19.

The statement partly read, “That experts, including scientists, take the lead in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, scientists should be included in the existing committees and given critical roles. That a comprehensive response plan should be put in place to ensure that we can win the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The health workers during a recent virtual meeting also called for e-payment of a decent and befitting hazard allowance to all officials in the health sector, provision of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and consequent training on the use of the equipment, comprehensive insurance for all workers in the health sector, payment of all outstanding salary arrears and better funding and investment in the health sector, among others.

They warned of dire consequences if the federal and state governments privatise institutions and services in the health sector, while stressing that substantial investment and training of health workers should be done. 

The statement read, “What is required is substantial investment in the health sector and the urgent training of all workers, including ancillary health workers.

“Even so, the majority of Nigerians suffer far more from other diseases which could easily be prevented or treated, especially those in the informal sector, would suffer far more from any possible return to lockdowns.

“We have always had a vaccine for hunger – it is food.  So far, we have suffered far lower levels of COVID-19 than Europe and North America, for example, but this could easily change with the new strains from South Africa and Britain, which are far more infectious.”

ASCAB and the health workers also said they would establish a solidarity forum and a COVID-19 Situation Room as a citizens response initiative to monitor compliance and issue periodic reports on what needs to be done.

Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB) is a coalition of over 80 civil society organisations (CSOs) and organised labour.

ASCAB is made up of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU); Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), National Association of Community Health Practitioners (NACHP) and the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN).

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