By Ismail Auwal
The Nigerian Medical Association has said no fewer than 30 doctors lost their lives to COVID-19 as they battled to save the lives of infected persons in the country.
NMA President, Innocent Ujah, while disclosing this said lamented the non-payment of their death benefits and insurance up till now by the government despite the fact they died in the line of duty.
The renowned Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist lamented that doctors, especially in the southeast were owed up to two years’ salaries a development he said had already affected their moral and called on the affected states to defray the backlog.
He said: “NMA right from the beginning of the pandemic has been very proactive, through advocacy and constructive engagements, dialogue, and conversations.”
He added that “As soon as Covid was announced, we put in place mechanism. We told government what it should do and they would not listen, otherwise, we would not have had the many cases we had.”
“In the first four weeks of Covid, if Nigeria had shut her borders, we wouldn’t have had this because it was an imported disease and all we needed to do was close the airlines, airports and land borders and stay for at least four weeks, we would not have suffered this much.”
“But even at that, we thank God because Nigerian doctors and other health workers were up to the task.”
“They demonstrated resilience, commitment and that was why even in the face of inadequacies, we were working and we lost over 20 to 30 doctors to Covid and you know once a life is lost, it is not replaceable.”
“The worst thing is that their death insurances have not been paid. And we think that they should be paid.”
“We believe that their deaths benefits and insurances should be paid. And one way of encouraging the health workers is to motivate them.”
“Some of these basic things can be fulfilled. It is our firm belief that with the right support from the governments, our efforts to provide excellent health services to Nigerians will continue to improve.
Ujah noted that “Everything in Nigeria that is bad is endemic. Poverty is endemic. Inflation is endemic. But we are not saying that doctors should go on strike.”
“Doctors go on strike only as a last resort. All we need to talk about is that let us be proactive is responding to the needs of doctors.”
“Can you imagine some states owing up to 21 months of salary arrears? Do you expect the doctors in those states to put in the best?”
“And most of these arrears are in the South East. That’s the truth of the matter. We have statistics for this.”