The Nigerian Medical Association, Lagos State branch, has kicked against the Federal Government’s plan to recall retired doctors and nurses to help fight against the rampaging coronavirus.
Chairman of the association, Dr. Saliu Oseni, said NMA Lagos had reservations over the Federal Government’s plan, saying retired people are above 60 years of age and therefore, more vulnerable to the infection.
Oseni explained, “While we appreciate the need for volunteers, the NMA Lagos expresses reservations for the use of retired personnel as frontline personnel because of the vulnerability of their age group.
“This is because vulnerability to infections worsens as people age.
“Retired people are above 60 years of age, and using them as front-liner may make them more susceptible and the prognosis is worse in them.
“All over the world, elderly persons are more vulnerable and likely to die than the younger population,” he warned.
The Federal Government had, on Monday, said retired doctors and nurses could be reabsorbed in states to help in the fight against the global pandemic.
This was made known by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in Abuja, while giving updates on the virus.
Similarly, the Federal Government on Thursday directed the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to draft all its recent retirees back into service to beef up manpower in the response to the pandemic.
But the NMA chairman told our Correspondent in an interview that the Federal Government should apply caution while deploying personnel to contain the virus.
“What we are are saying is that if the Federal Government deploys old people to fight the virus, their [old people’s] own prognosis is worse.
“So, the government should look for younger health workers, because the younger they are, the better for us,” he said.
On how to get younger health workers to help in the fight against COVID-19, Oseni suggested, “We are appealing that hospitals should attend to only emergency cases this period in order to reduce the workload and then have more workers to do the job.
“The government should look for volunteer workers who are willing to help, and not a situation where they will force old people to come back and work for them.
“The government should not coerce anybody to work.
“It should get their [retired health workers] consent and the welfare packages spelt out.
“Again, the government should also provide adequate personal protective equipment for the workers.”
He further noted, “We, the NMA, are also canvassing for volunteer workers to help combat the infection. Likewise the medical guild.
“But those that we are looking for are those already in the system. We need health workers that will be monitoring those quarantined.
“Part of the problem that we are having today is that there was a communication gap in the system.
“Nobody was monitoring and following up on the suspected cases. That is why we have increase in the number of confirmed cases today.”
Meanwhile the Federal Government has approved the release of N10bn grant to Lagos State to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
This was disclosed on Thursday via the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) verified Twitter handle @MBuhari.
The Federal Government said the grant would enable Lagos, which is the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria, to increase its capacity to control and contain the spread, while also supporting other states with capacity building.
Lagos currently accounts for 44 of the 65 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nigeria as of Thursday evening.