Investigations by a Nigerian publication, Premium Times have revealed that most Covid-19 infections recorded among health workers were not of those working at the isolation or testing centres, but of those from various hospitals where workers are forced to use improvised personal protective equipment due to their unavailability. Picture: Twitter @NCDCgov
Investigations by a Nigerian publication, Premium Times have revealed that most Covid-19 infections recorded among health workers were not of those working at the isolation or testing centres, but of those from various hospitals where workers are forced to use improvised personal protective equipment due to their unavailability. Picture: Twitter @NCDCgov

Most Nigerian health workers who tested positive for Covid-19 didn't have PPE's

By ANA reporter Time of article published Apr 29, 2020

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Pretoria - Most health workers in Nigeria who have been infected with Covid-19 are not those working at the isolation or testing centres, but rather those who do not have access to personal protective equipment (PPE), Nigerian publication Premium Times has reported on Wednesday.

The publication says that through its investigations it has established that the highest infections are among health workers from various hospitals where they are forced to improvised on PPE, due to unavailability.

The investigation comes after the Nigerian minister of health, Osagie Ehinare, last week Thursday, revealed that more than 40 health workers in Nigeria, have tested positive for coronavirus.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation recorded the West African figures at 1,532 Covid-19 cases and 44 fatalities.

According to the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Lagos State accounts for 844 of Nigeria’s 1,532, that is, 55 percent of confirmed cases. Premium Times said even now, the state hasn't done much in its treatment of the health care workers who operate outside isolation centres.

"For instance, three nurses and a doctor from Alimosho general hospital, Igando, who are currently receiving treatment at the infectious disease hospital (IDH), Yaba, and Onikan isolation centre, contracted the virus through a patient who visited their hospital," Premium Times said.

The newspaper said it can also confirm that many health workers from the general hospitals in Odan, Lagos Island, Ikorodu, and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, and LUTH are already quarantined, and are awaiting the results of their tests.

Findings by the publication have shown that governments at both federal and state levels have concentrated surveillance and management efforts against the disease at only the isolation and testing centres, leaving other healthcare facilities and their workforce out of their calculations.

'Across these healthcare facilities- primary, secondary and tertiary, personal protective equipment such as masks, infrared thermometers, coverall, hand sanitisers, and gloves are scarce commodities, and are rationed among staff."

According to the report, scarcity of PPE has forced health workers in some public hospitals visited by our reporter recently to use improvised protective tools, especially sanitisers.

“We combine making sanitisers with the volume of work we face in the wards,” the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) chairperson at Lagos Island maternity, Amusan Ayobami, was quoted saying.

The publication further added that at general hospitals located in Ifako Ijaiye, Orile Agege, and Gbagada, it found that only critical health workers, such as nurses and doctors, are entitled to 100 millimetres of sanitisers each, and for a period of two weeks.

The state had confirmed the dire situation to the publication, blaming it on greedy marketers who were alleged to be “making brisk business from the unfortunate situation by hoarding and inflating prices”.

The permanent secretary at the Lagos state ministry of health, Olusegun Ogboye, told  Premium Times all efforts were being made to address the logistic challenge.

Ogboye’s counterpart at the Lagos state health service commission (LSHSC), Benjamin Eniayewun, said the governor has consistently expressed his commitment to improve on the working conditions across all the health facilities.

“The governor specifically told us at a meeting recently that he would rather waste money than risk the lives of health workers," Eniayewun was quoted saying.

However, findings by the publication have shown that many weeks after Eniayewun’s plea, nothing significant has changed.

In Kwara, nurses staged a protest to express their dissatisfaction with the unavailability of PPE in the state. 

"They accused the government of subjecting them to hardship especially without proper welfare packages including transportation to and from work in spite of the lockdown.

"The story is the same in Plateau State, where a similar protest was held by health workers over poor working conditions," Premium Times said.

Various health workers’ unions have accused the government of focusing attention on frontline workers and that those saddled with the responsibility of manning the various public health facilities are ignored.

However, Premium Times said they have received numerous complaints from frontline workers

Speaking on the situation, the president of the resident doctors’ union, Roland Aigbovo, has alleged that the government’s segregation of health workers, especially in the distribution of PPE and welfare packages, has stirred the crisis.

“There is discrimination among health workers who are exposed to Covid-19 at the isolation centres and those who inadvertently treat positive cases at various hospitals," he was quoted saying.

NANNM national president, Adeniji Abdul Rafiu, said members of his association, which represents the larger percentage of the health workforce, have been subjected to grave hardship in their efforts to provide care.

“There is lockdown in many of the states and there are hardly any arrangements for health workers to get to work. The rosters have been altered due to the number of nurses already drafted to isolation centres, yet there is no encouragement whatsoever,” Adeniji was quoted saying.

African News Agency (ANA)

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