NSITF to offset medical expenses of COVID-19-infected workers
• Bars visitors without face masks
The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), said it would offset the medical expenses of workers whose employers are contributing to the Fund, if they contract coronavirus in the course of duty.
Managing Director of the Fund, Adebayo Somefun, who disclosed this in Abuja, explained that, although yet to receive any application from employers on coronavirus-related infection, the Fund was ready to treat them.
His words: “We will treat the applications as we treat every other occupational disease or occupational disability. So far, the NSITF has not received applications from contributing employers. However, we know that with time, applications will start coming especially with respect to either medical expenses incurred or those that have been treated and survived or a couple of few deaths. We will treat all of those as we treat every other case as long as it is proven that such death or injury occurred in the course of work.”
He noted that though the coronavirus pandemic broke out upon the world suddenly, the Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS), was specifically established to alleviate extra burden imposed on employers that are contributing when workers sustain injury in the workplace.
He also hinted that the Fund is attending to the needs of employers fully, with senior officers at their desks offering full scale services to registered employers.
“Now that workers are not going to work due to social and physical distancing, NSITF, in line with the Federal Government directive, has its officers from level 14 and above at work. At the branch level, we’re using the instrumentality of Internet facilities to attend to the needs of employers just in case any worker suffers death or disease in the course of work. We are attending to reported cases even during the pandemic,” he stated.
Somefun revealed that as at now, the Fund is yet to receive any documented case where a worker has contracted coronavirus in the course of work, adding that the Fund anticipates that such claim might come.
On the Fund’s preparedness to attend to claims beyond the financial provisions of ECS, he said: “If a worker contracts coronavirus in the course of work, and he or she is treated and discharged, we can treat such claim as a medical expense. It is the death aspect of it that will be a bit cumbersome. However, we have been lucky enough in this side of the world that the number of deaths recorded has been low compared to what is happening elsewhere.
“In addition, most of the deaths that have been recorded happened among people that are outside of the working age. The number of people that are within the working age is not high at all. We believe that the trend will continue in this direction. As for preparation, we are prepared as an institution to take care of any worker that contracts coronavirus in the course of work.”
He added that in efforts to tackle the challenges thrown up by the coronavirus, NSITF made a donation to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, while promising to assist employers that are under its scheme to bridge productivity losses during the pandemic in strict compliance with laid down guideline, as enshrined in the ECS 2010 law.
“We are only dealing with employers that duly registered under the ECS and are up to date in their remittances,” he said.
Somefun submitted that to stem the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria, visitors to all NSITF offices must wear face masks, saying: “the management has provided sanitizers, face masks, temperature testing thermometers, and hand washing points in all our 56 branch offices and 11 regional offices inclusive of the head office.
“Whoever visits our offices is expected to wear a face mask to avoid transmission. We also observe social distancing in all our premises by making sure that all workers that are not supposed to be in the office remain off the premises. No office is allowed to keep more than 20 persons within the premises at any point in time. In addition to these steps, all our offices nationwide have been decontaminated to ensure the premises are kept safe.”