Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Negative effects of COVID-19 has begun to be evident in public hospitals across Nigeria as many of them have complained about significant drop in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) which has affected their smooth running.
They also expressed fears that the hospitals might soon face manpower challenges due to increase in number of medical doctors resigning for unknown reasons.
Director, Media and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Health, Olujimi Oyetomi, in a statement released in Abuja, yesterday, indicated that some Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) presented the matter to the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora, at a virtual meeting.
The CMDs told the minister that they were becoming unable to meet their basic needs due to the significant drop in revenue and were frustrated by the decline in competent manpower.
They also told the Minister that the drop in revenue was, largely, due to low turnout of patients for regular routine cases as well as huge outsource services and overhead cost.
The doctors, at the meeting, reported high cost of electricity bills, increased cost of providing services due to high cost of materials, delay in payment of inducement allowance to those working in isolation centres, lack of sufficient Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) and bed spaces, lack of support/poor relationship with some host governors.
The statement added: “There are also reported inappropriate demand for PPEs and demand for only N95 masks by staff before they could attend to patients, infection of hospital workers, resignation of resident doctors and the need for employment waiver for nurses and doctors.
“They also listed lack of oxygen supply, need for more ambulance/surgical facilities for COVID-19 cases, frequent summons of the CMDs by National Assembly members, which they requested should be temporarily stepped down to enable the CMDs concentrate on the health crisis on ground.
“They reported the refusal of citizens/patients to believe that COVID-19 exist, issues of security with families coming in with assault weapons to claim their corpses; and the safety of their colleagues in Kogi State.”
The minister, in his response, to the drop in IGR acknowledged that it was a major issue and promised that to take measures that would herald a change.
He assured the hospitals that Federal Ministry of Health is in talks with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in the area of outsource services to have a budget line and be funded regularly, but the plan was put on hold due to COVID-19 pandemic.
On the issue of infection of hospital workers/resignation of resident doctors and the need for employment waiver, Dr. Mamora reiterated the need for health workers to be properly educated on the consciousness of infection, prevention and control (IPC) to further limit or eliminate infections.
On waiver for employment of nurses and doctors, he said the request will be sent to the appropriate authorities and there will be a revert to the hospital Chiefs.
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has launched an online course on infection prevention and control (ICP) for health workers, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection transmission in healthcare setting.
The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the online course would be available to the general public, particularly the health care workers.
According to him, the programme is aimed at reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases while administering health care in the country.
“As at July 4, a total of 28,167 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 634 deaths have been recorded by NCDC.
“Additionally, as at June 2, about 812 healthcare workers have been infected in the country, with over 230,000 infected globally,” he noted.
Ihekweazu said that the national strategy in term of response to COVID-19 had been multifaceted.
He added that in the absence of a vaccine or cure, compliance with IPC measures remained one of the most effective interventions to control the outbreak.
The director-general said that the NCDC had made efforts to rapidly strengthen the capacity of frontline healthcare workers in infection prevention and control, wherever health care was provided.
“Since the first case in Nigeria was confirmed in February, NCDC has supported the training of about 17,436 health workers in IPC.