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COVID-19: Health workers at LUTH isolation centre decry non-payment of allowances

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By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna

COVID-19: How patients are treated

Health workers at the isolation centre at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, have raised the alarm over the Federal government’s failure to pay them their accrued COVID-19 allowance since the 7th of April 2020 when the hospital commenced treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The helpless workers who are risking their lives on a daily basis treating Nigerians with coronavirus disease are worried that what happened to them during the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak may be repeated.

Some of the workers who spoke to Vanguard under anonymity said while their counterparts at the Infectious Disease Hospital, IDH, Yaba have been paid, those in LUTH are still living on promises.

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According to them, the management of LUTH has continued to provide them with food and accommodation leaving out the COVID-19 allowance among others.

The workers also alleged that they were told that the Federal government was responsible for the payment of their allowances since they are working in a Federal government institution.

“We are told that we will get paid by the federal government because we are working with them. The same thing happened during the Ebola outbreak, till date no one paid us from the Federal government.

“LUTH management claimed that their responsibility was to give us food and accommodation but we are surprised that our counterparts at the IDH have been paid all their allowances.

“We are appealing to the Federal government and the Presidential Task Force, PTF, as well as the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to please come to our aid. We don’t want what happened during the Ebola outbreak to happen again. We have families and we risk our lives to assist our people with the disease.

“Please help us tell the government that we are working without being paid. We started admitting COVID-19 patients at the LUTH isolation centre in April.”

Further, an investigation by Vanguard showed that the aggrieved workers had earlier planned to raise their concerns when the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnibe Mamora visited the institution but were prevented from stating their grievances. 

It could be recalled that the Federal Government had announced that it had commenced the payment of the Upgraded Hazard allowances for frontline health workers fighting against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

According to the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, at one of the daily briefings of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, the new incentives, including insurance scheme was a fall-out of an MOU signed between the Federal Government and representatives of the unions under the health sector.

Mamora said the upgraded allowance includes: Special COVlD-19 Hazard and inducement Allowance of 50 percent of the consolidated basic salary. to be paid to all health workers in all the Federal Government Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres, designated COVlD-19 Centres and the Primary Healthcare Centres within the first three months in the first instance.

Further, Mamora said the 40 percent of Consolidated Basic Salary would be paid as Special COVlD-19 Hazard and Inducement Allowance to healthcare workers at Special Non-Public Hospitals and Clinics in the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies for the same three months period.

He further explained that 20 percent of the Consolidated Basic Salary would be paid as Special Risk Allowance additionally on the Special COVID-19 Hazard and inducement Allowance to all health workers directly managing COVlD-19 at the Infectious Diseases Hospitals, isolation and Treatment Centres.

Another 10 percent of Consolidated Basic Salary would be paid to non-core medical professionals working in the health sector and operating at the aforementioned hospitals or clinics as Special Allowance for the COVID-19 for the period of three months in the first instance. 

 He said that the PTF on COVlD-19 was also requested to provide additional insurance cover aside the above listed for frontline health workers at the Infectious Diseases Hospitals, Isolation and Treatment Centres.

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