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Strike: FG pays 53,031 Health workers of N4.6bn Hazard Allowance

By Oluwaseun Sonde

The Honourable Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that a total of 55,031 Health workers in 35 Covid-19 designated hospitals and medical centres have been paid Special Hazard Allowance totalling N4,642,485,146.00 as of June 21, 2020 and more payments are being processed.

The Minister disclosed this at the Press Conference in Abuja on Sunday, over the ongoing strike by resident doctors, he said other matters relating to non-payment of arrears dating as far back as 2014 or salaries owed by State Governments, are either in court, or beyond the power of the Federal Ministry of Health to resolve.

According to him, “the proactive step by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment was informed by the fact that as a Medical Doctor, he realized that an industrial action by any group in the Health chain will be disastrous to our weak, fragile health system at this period of pandemic, so he had stressed and conveyed to the Health workers, the Federal Government’s, and in particular Mr. President’s, gratitude for their bravery, courage and devotion as frontline workers in the fight against the unseen mortal enemy Covid-19”, he said.

He added that it is pertinent to say that the issues raised by the Association, while issuing its ultimatum on June 1st, have received or are receiving full attention: Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, have been supplied to all State and Federal Tertiary Hospitals and funds for the same have been provided in the revised 2020 budget.

“Implementation of the Residency Training programme was backed by the National Assembly, which provided ₦4 billion in the revised 2020 budget, while the Ministry of Health is working with the Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to build a template to assure same in the Personnel Cost of 2021 Budget”, he said.

He noted that Federal Government have also paid N9 billion as premium for Group Life Insurance to all our health workers and N4,642,485,146.00 as Special Hazard Allowance to health workers as already acknowledged in at least 35 hospitals. “Please note that the payment of COVID-19 Special Hazard Inducement allowances are based on 4 templates.

50% of Consolidated Basic Salary to all workers in Covid-19 designated Hospitals and Centres, 40% of Consolidated Basic Salary to health workers in Non-Covid-19 designated Centres and Hospitals, 10% of Consolidated Basic Salary to Non-Health Professionals engaged in those centres, 20% of Consolidated Basic Salary special allowance to all health workers directly managing Covid-19 patients in Treatment and Isolation Centres”, he said.

Furthermore, he said this is happening at a time the nation is battling a pandemic of immense proportions. “This inexplicable strike is a dangerous setback for the nation’s efforts at tackling the pandemic. The health workers are our heroes. They have been in the forefront of the efforts to contain the pandemic. In the process, many have been infected with the virus.

“We are also aware of the challenges confronting health workers in carrying out their duties, especially the provision of the PPE. But I make bold to say that the Federal Government has done everything possible to procure PPE and make such available to our health workers. Of course, the fact that this is a global pandemic has affected the availability of PPEs and other requirements for fighting the pandemic”, he said.

He added that apart from the provision of PPEs and other equipment, Federal Government has done the following: Expansion of the testing laboratories from two to 38, Training of over 13,000 health workers in Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC), Development of policy and protocols for testing returning Nigerians, Development of policies and protocols for integration of primary healthcare into national response.

“Development of stronger and sustainable policy for community engagement and risk Communication, Increase in the isolation centre bed space from 3,000 to more than 5,000 nationwide, We have reeled out the details of the efforts made by the Federal Government to strengthen the nation’s capacity to respond robustly to the pandemic as well as to protect our healthcare workers”, he said.

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