By Sheriff Badmus
Nigeria has over years struggled with establishing herself among elite nations. Albeit hosting a long chain of natural endowments, Nigeria has been placed back in terms of functional and sustainable development by factors mainly traced to poor management. These have made social projects in the country a farce. In cases where such projects exist, they are often bloated beyond their costs while quality is still compromised. The unemployment rate is worrisome and other measures of wellbeing are below the green line.
The emergence and spread of COVID-19 have had developed nations brought down to seek help. The question has thus surged that if developed nations are struggling against a virus, how will the developing and undeveloped nations cope? Despite these concerns, African nations are yet to be bitten hard like any of the affected elite nations.
However, the emergence of COVID-19 in Nigeria has made open series of issues about the commitment of the nations leaders to national development. For example, the nations Ministry of Finance was captured on Twitter soliciting aids from an American businessman cum philanthropist, Elon Musk, while members of House of Representative in Nigeria are taking delivery of Toyota Camry 2020 model. Viral and valid amongst these issues is the state of health facilities in Nigeria.
Containing a Loaded Virus with Empty Pockets
Resident doctors under the aegis of Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Abuja chapter, went on strike on 17 March 2020, due to the failure of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to make complete payment of over 2 months basic salary. However, the strike which was suspended on March 23 when the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) directed all striking unions affiliated to it to go back to work until the ongoing pandemic is contained is expected to resume 30 April, if FCTA fails to act.
Mr Aigbovo, the Chairperson ARD-FCTA, however, retorted “I call on the FCTA management to roll out plans aimed at containing the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection as we return to work.
Poor Protection and Remuneration
In a chat with Premium Times on 3 April 2020, the chairpersons of the Association of Nurses and Midwives in University College Hospital, Ibadan; Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Hospital, Osun; Ogun and Bauchi, have all lamented on the poor treatment, inclusion, encouragement and remuneration of their members engaged in the frontlines of fighting COVID-19. And the Plateau State chapter of the body threatened to strike over alleged non-provision of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
Lockdown: Narratives from National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi Lagos
A source who preferred to be anonymous gave a glimpse on how healthcare providers are coping at the hospital since the advent of the lockdown. When quizzed about her penchant for work, she said, “I go only when I get someone to carry me though. But those with cars and the chiefs have to go.” When asked if she would you really go to work if she is left to decide, she replied, Yes.”
“For now, we are only admitting emergency cases and so the workload isnt as much as it used to be. We discharged many patients before the lockdown started, the source added.
Since the state is on lockdown, it meant life wont be as usual because other key variables of the economy such as food vendors and transporters wont be operating. This would mean a discomfort and change in lifestyle for health workers.
“If I would be going, I have to prepare my mind that I will feed on junks for almost 32hrs. Until recently, the hospital only provides food for doctors, others are left to fend for themselves. she said.
A Case of Being Stranded
In National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi Lagos, nurses cant leave the ward except another nurse takes over. In the face of lockdown, the implication is that some nurses would overstay at the ward awaiting a replacement. And in cases where there is a replacement, transportation is not guaranteed.
“Nothing really happens whether I go or not, no form of compensation or punishment… But its what I signed up for so I have to find a way,” she added.
Every 7th of April marks the World Health Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
The Perspectives of a Physician
Dr Ilyas Muibi works as a medical officer with the Accident and Emergency Unit of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan. He believes doctors are risking their lives.
“We are working without full Personal Protective Equipment which is not 100% safe, he said.
When quizzed about the likely attitude of most doctors to work he responded that, “our commitment is geared towards curtailing the spread of this dangerous virus by all possible means within our reach. Even though, the financial reward is not encouraging. Hazards allowance of a doctor is pegged at 5000 naira per month, he added.
On the challenges arising from the fact that other sectors of the economy are shut down, he retorted, Well, we are in one way or the other. This has reduced the number patients coming to the hospital. Most Elective surgeries have been suspended apart from pure emergencies
Advice to Colleagues
“My Advice to my colleagues is to keep safe and see to their own health before others while trying to combat this disease.”
Talking about how others can help healthcare providers during this period, Dr. Muibi opined, Pray for us. Stay home for us as directed by the government in order to ensure easy contact tracing and to avoid community transmission. This is also not a time to come visit sock people in the hospital.”