Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) on Monday disclosed that no fewer than 16 medical doctors have died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past few months.
The umbrella body of medical doctors in Nigeria also disclosed that, as of October 8, its records indicate that 1,031 medical doctors were exposed to the virus in Nigeria, with 321 confirmed cases. Sixteen of them are reported to have died, the NMA said.
NMA President Prof Innocent Ujah, who addressed a press conference in Abuja on Monday to commence the 2020 Physicians’ Week on the theme “Strategy for health system recovery during COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria”, said that it was unfortunate that medical doctors have lost their lives in the cause of saving the lives of patients due to poor and inadequate work materials and environment.
‘The series of the strikes we had a few months ago was not only for hazard allowance or other issues. It was also to raise national alarm over inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for our members who are responding to COVID-19 patients, hence the number of medical doctors that contracted the virus and died in response,’ he said.
‘Yes, we recorded 16 deaths, but it could have been more if not for the intervention of some organisations and other medical institutions that went out of their way not to wait for the government to deliver PPEs and other things that helped us to work.
‘Our affiliate professional associations, notably National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) also went out of their way to procure these items for their members. It would have been more disastrous if not for such intervention. We have engaged the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 severally and we will continue to engage on these issues.’
He explained that the essence of the annual Physicians’ Week is to celebrate medical doctors who are effectively contributing to health care service delivery as well as medical research. It is also an opportunity to review the events in the health sector in the past 12 months.
‘This year’s exercise thus calls for sober reflection, considering the current realities of COVID-19 that had crippled socioeconomic activities across the world. We are saddened by the death of our colleagues and other health care workers who were involved in the response to the pandemic.
‘Howbeit, aside from the press conference, there will be prayer in churches and mosques, advocacy visits to critical stakeholders in states of Nigeria, visits to isolation centres, mentoring sessions for younger doctors, awards to outstanding doctors…’