NMA decries death of members to Lassa fever
• Seeks review of doctors’ hazard allowance
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has lamented the death of no fewer than 10 of its members within one month of Lassa fever outbreak in some states of the country. Chairman of its North Central, Dr. Kunle Olawepo, told The Guardian in Ilorin yesterday that the development called for prompt review of the present Hazard Allowances for Nigerian doctors.
Olawepo said the development, if left unchecked, would not only deplete the ideal patients-doctors ratio in the country, but also lead to apathy of doctors treating patients with certain diagnosed hemorrhagic fevers and other deadly tropical diseases. His words: “Some of us in the clinical practice, who are exposed to Lassa fever infection, Ebola and other forms of hemorrhagic fevers that have a propensity to kill in minutes, have received their own bitter taste of the story.
“From January till date, we have lost about 10 of our members across all grades to Lassa fever, while discharging their duties. “Therefore, it is high time the government did a comprehensive review of our hazard allowance. It should be reviewed from its present N5000 to something more worthwhile.
“One thing about the present system is that the same amount of money paid to a man who just passed out of medical school is what is paid to a Professor of Medicine who is about retiring from the system. It is time for us to query the rationale behind it.”
Olawepo, who is also the Kwara State Chairman of the NMA, commended the welfare package of members of the association to relatives of its members who died in the course of their duty, saying the government should live up to its responsibilities. He also lauded the members for releasing about N10 million to those who died due to the hemorrhagic attacks.
He said: “We should not muddle up the NMA packages with the hazard allowance. For instance, our colleagues from Ekiti State that died on their way to Annual General Conference (AGM), the NMA paid about N20 million as compensation to their families from its welfare packages.
“We have a robust structure for this in the association. But we want government to do more in the area of the hazard allowance to our members.” He urged the members of the association to make safety their watchword, while attending to patients with contagious diseases, just as he believed that they should always put on their protective kits, while attending to patients.
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