By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–AMIDST the growing fears over likely spread of the dreaded Corona Virus scourge in the country,resident doctors have asked the government to implemented Group LIfe Assurance Policy for health workers.
They accused the government of failing to implement the policy which they noted,was a contract of insurance designed to provide for the payment of capital sum to the dependents of an employee who dies while in service.
Addressing the media,Thursday,in Abuja,the doctors through their union,the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria,NARD, lamented that doctors,nurses and other frontline healthcare workers, who they noted,were sacrificing their health and time to treat and protect Nigerians, were not only ill-equipped but also economically dampened by government’s lack of will to prioritize their well-being.
Speaking through their president, Dr. Aliyu Sokomba, the resident doctor flayed what they called, ” the poor state of welfare for healthcare workers in the face of threatening hazardous and fatal diseases outbreaks such as Lassa fever and the coronavirus otherwise known as COVID-19, in the country.
“With the recent outbreaks in the country one would have thought that protecting the healthcare workers’ welfare and most importantly their well-being would be given the utmost attention to enable them carry out their job diligently, but this unfortunately is not the case,”Dr Sokomba said.
He addes that,“Even as Government makes provision for the Group life assurance policy a contract of insurance designed to provide for the payment of capital sum to the dependents of an employee who dies while in service, it has failed to implement it.”
According to him,”This policy is supposed to be compulsory by virtue of the pension reform act 2014.”
“Specifically, Section 4,sub-section 5 of the act requires employers to maintain life insurance policy or death-in service benefit scheme in favour of their employees.”
“Six years after the enactment of the act, NARD has over these years, made concerted effort with the relevant agencies of government to ensure the lives of health care workers are properly insured to no avail,”he added.
He spoke further: “Following the review of the hazard allowance in 2009, the allowance has remained a paltry sum of N60,000 per annum, which translates to N5,000 naira per month paid across board for all health workers.
“This allowance of N5,000, cannot afford a full course of ribavirin prophylaxis should any health care worker get exposed. And that is what we get today as hazard allowance. Even though no amount of allowance can ever suffice for the sacrifice of health and time, a modest proportion of basic salary as proposed over 5 years ago, is required to at least offer some degree of social protection from the job hazard.
“Recently, the National University Commission forwarded a circular to Vice Chancellors of Nigerian universities and the Registrar of the NPMCN on Postgraduate medical training, stating the requirement of a PhD as a prerequisite for career progression of Doctors teaching medical students. This requirement of a PhD is alien and antithetical to medical education and practice world over.
“We therefore join the Medical and Dental Consultant Association of Nigeria in calling the NUC and the employers to call NUC to order and withdraw the circular.
“We also wish to caution the NUC on its planned distortion of the residency training programme to be wary of the consequences as it relates to the residency training act, the funding of residency and the duration of the programme”.