The Nigeria Medical Association on Monday said it will seek increased funding for health workers in the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim more of its members.
At least 20 doctors died in the past week after contracting COVID-19, according to the chairman of the NMA in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr Enema Amodu.
The doctors died in the course of treating infected patients who failed to disclose their true health status, Amodu said.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, the NMA President, Professor Innocent Ujah said the association would be seeking more funding from the federal government to reduce the risks for health workers.
He also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for sympathising with the nation over the death of the 20 doctors.
“We don’t want anybody to die in the service of their country,” Ujah said. “That’s why we talk about infection prevention and control. And we believe that working with the federal government, the PTF, and the Ministry of Health, we need to continually train our health workers – doctors, nurses – and anyone who has anything to do with patients on infection prevention and control.
“The NMA does not have the luxury of money. We need funds. What we can supply, which we have, is the capacity and ability to do the research; what we don’t have is sufficient funds to move around the country. We have the manpower, but we don’t have the enabling environment.
“The issue of hazard allowance is no longer discussed. We will take on the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in the new year because we cannot continue to increase the risks and subject our doctors and nurses to the hazards – they are too many.”
Professor Ujah on Monday also said Nigeria must test imported vaccines before it is administered to citizens.
According to the NMA chief, reactions to vaccines differ among different races.
“If the vaccines come to Nigeria, we need to quickly do our own evaluation of that vaccine,” he said. “I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that in the process of developing this vaccine, in the clinical trials, whether any African countries were involved. I’m not too sure, but it’s possible.
“Then because of the biology, because of the environment, because of our genetic composition, we need to do our own clinical trials very quickly before it can be used on Nigerians. While we do not question the efficacy and safety, the responses vary from place to place.
“Recall that when we were using chloroquine, the southern part was not responding to chloroquine, some parts of the north were. But in totality, it was thought that chloroquine was no longer effective and we changed.”