By Vincent Ujumadu
NO fewer than 100 ambulance and truck drivers from the five South East states are undergoing a three –day safety training on COVID -19 in Awka to equip them on how to respond to emergency situations.
The programme, which was put together by GreenLight Initiative in collaboration with Iwuanyanwu National Ambulance Foundation and the Anambra State Ministry of Health, drew participants from the Federal Road Safety Commission, government establishments and the private sector.
The national coordinator of the Foundation, Mr. Chinedu Nsofor said the training became important because drivers have important role to play in COVID -19 emergency situations since trained health personnel might not be easily available.
The executive director of GreenLight Initiative, Mr. Simon Obi said since the discovery of the index case of COVID-19 virus on February 27, 2020 in Nigeria, the number of confirmed cases has continued to rise to a record figure of over 123,000, while fatalities have also gone up to more than 1,507.
He said: “With more than 80% of Nigeria’s economic activities hinged on road transportation of people and goods needing to move from point A to B for daily lives , many drivers commute without applying safety protocols, thereby contributing to further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Those affected most are motorists who are responsible for truck and ambulance operations in Nigeria.
“Truck and ambulance drivers who are responsible for the transportation of medical supplies, patients, and logistics needed for COVID-19 management in Nigeria are ill-trained and equipped. They lack personal protective equipment (PPE) and training.
“Drivers operate without knowledge of road safety, which results in injuries, loss of lives, and damage to medical and logistics equipment needed for a functional health supply chain. These negative consequences worsen already-existing health commodity transportation and logistics challenges, such as a discredited workforce; lack of occupational safety practices; and a dangerous working environment.
“It is for this reason that GreenLight Initiative partnered Iwuanyanwu National Ambulance Foundation and Ministry of Health, Anambra State to implement a COVID-19 response safety training for drivers in Anambra State and the training is aimed at empowering the drivers with safety knowledge.
“The training modules are designed to empower the drivers and assistants with COVID-19 safety protocols; basic infection prevention control; basic first aid, appropriate and rational use of personal protective equipment and education on road safety measures.
“The training will enable these drivers to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19, enforce and advocate for COVID-19 safety protocols as they deliver on their jobs and ensure that COVID-19 supplies and equipment are delivered to hospitals in a safe and timely manner.”