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NUJ applauds medical practitioners, cautions politicians on coronavirus spread

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The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described as outstanding and courageous, the excellence and professionalism so far demonstrated by Nigerian medical doctors, nurses, and health workers in managing the Coronavirus pandemic since the case was reported in the country.

In a statement issued yesterday by the National President of the body, Chris, Isiguzo, the union commended home grown medical practitioners and health workers for what they have achieved so far in the fight against this pandemic “despite poor facilities, hostile working environments and frustrating conditions of service.”

The union said that with very low mortality rate, increasing number of discharged persons and effective management of positive patients, the medical professionals have shown that they can compete favourably with the best in the world if given opportunity and accorded required recognition.

“The union called on the Federal and state governments to consider adequate remuneration for health workers in this line of duty,” the statement said.

The statement read: “Union advises the Federal and state governments, the private sector at all levels that the time to invest in the health sector is now. The obvious impact of this rampaging pandemic has made it more imperative for our hospitals to become more functional considering that everybody no matter how highly or lowly placed has now been circumstantially compelled to patronise our local hospitals.

“The NUJ also welcomes with high expectations, the measures so far taken by the Federal Government to manage the crisis. The union commends the professionalism shown by the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu in particular and the SGF-led Presidential Task Force on COVID 19.”

The NUJ identified the daily media briefing by the Task Force, interface with various state governments as important steps that have helped information dissemination, public education and enlightenment. “It has also helped to draw national attention to the dangers that lie ahead, the responsibilities of all Nigerians and the need for unity of purpose to defeat the pandemic,” Isiguzo said in the statement.

The union also commends its members, health reporters and correspondents and the Nigerian media generally for the on-going aggressive campaign through various news and programmes on the dangers of the virus.

“We also once more call on authorities and owners of media establishments to do everything possible to equip their reporters and provide palliatives for journalists across the country so as to reduce the risk faced at this critical time. For debtor media houses, the Union reiterates that it will not continue to stand idly while journalists who work round the clock are owed several months arrears of salaries. Since its strategic engagements appear not to be yielding results as expected, the Union in the coming weeks may be forced to resort to either picketing of such media houses or take legal actions.”

The NUJ also viewed as disappointing and careless, “some decisions and actions of some state governors, which if not checked, are capable of undermining the restrictions and social distancing directives put in place for overall public safety. Relaxing the lockdown order in some states for the commemoration of the Easter celebration was a dangerous gamble and the affected states are advised to avoid such errors in future. Governors of states where cases have been recorded but are still yet to order a lockdown are advised to do so as it remains better to err on the side of caution.”

NUJ used the opportunity to advise politicians from all political parties to stop forthwith from playing politics with a deadly global health challenge such as the coronavirus pandemic that constitutes a matter of life and death. Politicians are urged to watch closely and learn from what is happening all over the world, where politics has taken a back seat in all countries including the USA that has a general election this year.


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