Crisis looms in health sector over COVID-19 hazard allowance
• African CSOs deplore dwindling foreign funding to curb the virus
Another round of crisis appears imminent in Nigeria’s health sector, as the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), yesterday, decried the alleged discrepancies in the COVID-19 hazard allowance for workers in the industry.
JOHESU’s National President of JOHESU, Comrade Josiah Biobelemoye, who hinted reporters in Abuja, claimed that the Ministry of the Health reneged on the uniform percentage agreed with the professionals and union in computing the special perk.
He argued that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) struck with government-specified 50 per cent of Consolidated Basic Salary as Special COVID-19 Hazard and Inducement Allowance for all categories of health workers in federal teaching hospitals and medical centres.
Biobelemoye said it was the position of the union that the stipend should be flat since ‘hazard’ does not discriminate, adding that other payments could vary.
He alleged: “Now, the Ministry of Health has changed even the percentage we agreed that should cut across every worker in the system.”
“When we say health workers, we mean all those that have been employed by the health system via the health ministry, hospitals and other parastatals. We expected that the percentage should be uniform. If you cannot give a higher percentage to the lower grade levels, then make the percentage uniform. That was the agreement we signed,” Biobelemoye added.
He further claimed: “Instead of using Paragraph 1(a) of the agreement, the Ministry of Health, instead, used Paragraph 1(d), which is meant for a different purpose and intent.”
To stave the impending industrial disharmony, the JOHESU president implored the ministry to implement the pact to the letter.
He acknowledged that a meeting had been summoned by the permanent secretary in the ministry to iron out the grievances.
In the meantime, African civil society organisations (CSOs) have regretted the dwindling foreign funding to check the pandemic on the continent, admitting that the negative effects of the virus were impacting on their operations.
The submission was contained in a report on the impact of the disease on operations and sustainability, conducted by continental NGOs and EPIC-Africa.
The survey noted that CSOs had a long tradition of performing crucial developmental, humanitarian and advocacy functions across Africa, often under challenging conditions.
Consequently, it held that there could not be an effective response to COVID-19 without their full participation.
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