Friday, 15 August 2014
Ebola-- Lagos Health Workers Get N5,000 For Facing Ebola Risk
Lagos State government was urged to immediately start ensuring protection of the health workers who interact with Ebola patients and therefore face the danger of contracting the killer virus.
Ebola scare: health worker screening passenger in Lagos MMIA
Nigerian port health official uses a thermometer at the MMIA arrivals hall in Lagos. Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP
“A friend of mine works in one of the healthcare centers under the Lagos State government. Knowing that those who interact with Ebola patients are exposed to the killer Ebola virus, I decided to ask her what they are doing to protect themselves against Ebola at their workplace,” Mr. Joshua says in his alarming missive to firstname.lastname@example.org entitled #5,000 Hazard Allowance for Healthcare Workers To Face Ebola.
“Her response made me hold my breath for more than a second. In a manner that suggested the virus is not a big deal, she said they are doing nothing!
“In a partial daze, I wondered if they have developed some kind of Ebola vaccine in her center, and she and her colleagues have all been vaccinated. I thought about all the credit Nigeria would get for having developed the vaccine. We would definitely be on the world news, for something good coming from our country other than sports. All Nigerians everywhere could proudly put on the green-white-green colours without attracting mocking stares.
“But a silent voice from somewhere in my head disrupted my dream and shouted my name. I heard my friend saying, ‘Developed kini? Ebola wetin? Ebola vaccine? In Nigeria? In which research institute? In which…’ and she started laughing.
“After I recovered, I asked her if she had listened to any news on Ebola. Surprisingly, she responded positively and gave me the latest, most accurate update on the problem.
“She then added that even the doctors who wore complete personal protective equipment in Liberia had contacted the virus. I mention this not because personal protective wear is not effective as a preventive measure, but to show how extremely contagious the Ebola virus is.
“Next, I asked why they were not doing anything to protect themselves and what Lagos State government is doing to protect healthcare workers (apart from drumming Ebola noisy rhythm into our ears).
“Well, the LSG is doing nothing. My friend said she and her colleagues voiced their concerns to their superior medical officer. He told them that the N5,000 hazard allowance paid to them monthly in their pay package by the LSG is compensation for exposure to hazards such as Ebola. He simply advised them to bear the risk!
“No provision for personal protective equipment (PPE), and no new personal protective procedure (PPP).
“My friend said their own PPE is prayer, and they are praying that no Ebola patient comes to their clinic. If one does, they will all join Patrick Sawyer.
“Unfortunately, her clinic is one of the few comprehensive healthcare centers where any Ebola patients would likely be admitted at first. She said she and her colleagues are worried – but they have no choice.
“The worry among healthcare workers was strongly echoed in the interview of Dr. Tope Ojo, the Lagos State chapter Chief of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA). He pointed out that we should ‘look at the overall kits doctors in Liberia and Guinea wear. They are well-protected, yet some of them still caught the virus. Doctors are worried about the danger it [Ebola] poses to their lives, and they need to be reassured.’
“On 11th of August 2014, both Dr. Ojo and the President of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Lagos State chapter, Abdrufai Adeniji, accused Lagos State and the Federal Government of not really fighting Ebola and not doing anything to protect health workers.
“At the moment, there are no protective kits for health workers provided, no reasonable hazard allowance for doctors, nurses and other health workers. The nurses are perhaps in most dangers, as they are in constant ‘romance’ with Ebola while taking care of the victims 24/7.
“As Dr. Tope Ojo have rightly said, ‘Any health worker managing an Ebola patient is risking his/her life and that of his family.’
“Clearly, Ebola is a merciless killer and can surpass Boko Haram‘s killings record in a matter of days if our goverment handles it with deceit and plays politics, as they tend to do with Boko Haram and all other harams that are murdering our country.
“Anyway, I love my dear friend very much and I don’t want to lose her to Ebola.
“Ironically, I have contemplated telling my lovely friend not to come to my house until I am reassured that the LSG is doing more to protect all healthcare workers.
“All healthcare workers must be protected. Be it primary healthcare workers, workers of general and teaching hopitals, institutions clinics ‘workers and private hospitals workers.
“A healthcare worker, in this sense, is anybody who works in the hospital, including cleaners, drivers, security, because they are all exposed through contacting with Ebola virus-carrying patients.
“Our healthcare workers are at the front line in the war against the Ebola virus. Nurses die, hudreds of patients and medical staff are under watch. Please, let’s make protecting them a number-one priority.
“Fashola Ebola people (FASHBOLA people), please take note.”
It has all started when Partick Sawyer, a Liberian-American civil servant, landed on Nigerian soil on July 20, 2014. As he wasn’t feeling too well – already in the last stages of the Ebola-induced breakdown – he was admitted to a small family clinic where doctors failed to diagnose the deadly virus. More than 24 hours passed before he was diagnosed, and the delay might have turned the threat of an urban outbreak into a nightmarish possibility.
Following the development, President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a national emergency and approved a 1.9bn naira special fund.
There is no cure yet but for experimental drug called ZMapp which was invented by the US and Canadian researchers. The World Health Organization has greenlit the use of the drug to help combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.