By Chioma Obinna
With just over 5,000 Nigerians tested for COVID-19, the Health Writers Association of Nigeria, HEWAN, has called on the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to urgently scale up laboratory testing across the country even as it urged the Federal government to institute proper incentives for frontline health workers in the fight against the virus.
In a statement made available to Good Health Weekly, the group stated: “With the rate at which cases are rising in Nigeria, there could be more individuals infected with the new coronavirus, if appropriate measures are not taken to limit the spread in states and within the healthcare delivery system.”
Noting that COVID-19 has brought out gaps in the country’s health system, HWEAN said government at all levels should begin to fund research efforts by scientists in the country.
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“Research effort is vital if Nigeria wants to end this pandemic and prevent future tragedies. Therefore, we urge the government at all levels to fund continued research efforts for vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.
“Our healthcare the system is further threatened by the call by the United States Government asking medical professionals seeking to work in America to apply for a work visa at the nearest US embassy as part of measures to strengthen the health system to contain the Coronavirus pandemic in America.
“Considering how Nigerian-trained health workers leave the country in droves because of poor welfare and working conditions, Nigeria cannot afford to lose any of its health personnel to foreign nations at this critical time they are needed most.
The HEWAN also urged the Federal Government to institute attractive welfare package and health insurance cover for health workers combating COVID-19 in the country.
“The welfare package must be well defined and spelt out in line with global standards. To have a fighting chance against COVID-19 and in treating those requiring intensive care, the government must invest adequately in the health sector to ensure that health workers are properly equipped with Personal Protective Equipment such as gloves, masks, ventilator equipment, IV saline, and other medically critical supplies to ensure they can safely and appropriately care for patients with COVID-19.
“HEWAN also wants the government to increase the number of testing centres across the country which and mobilise human and material resources at its disposal to immediately stop the spread of the virus before it becomes too late as the WHO had warned.
“We demand that all funds raised for the Coronavirus fight should be judiciously used and also accounted for. We call on Nigerians to follow the guidelines provided by the government, the World Health Organisation and the NCDC on preventive and protective measures against the pandemic.”