The Nigeria Medical Association has disclosed that the association lost 16 members to COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic eight months ago.
Prof. Baba Issa, Chairman of Kwara State NMA, disclosed this on Monday during a press conference organised to mark the 2020 Physicians Week in Ilorin.
Issa said: “Nigeria in the past eight months has had a fair share of the disease and has battled relentlessly to contain the rising cases of the infection, affecting every state in the nation, albeit disproportionately.
“As at October 8, there were 1,031 doctors who were exposed to the virus in Nigeria and 321 confirmed cases.
“Sadly 16 doctors, mortality rate of 4.98 per cent of our members, were painfully lost in the battle to save the lives of Nigerians.
“This is the prize we have to pay in obedience to Hippocratic oaths.”
Issa observed that the COVID-19 outbreak was an unexpected, alarming health crisis that had tested the best of health systems even in Europe and America.
According to him, COVID-19 pandemic has nakedly exposed the inadequacies of health systems around the world in response to the pandemic.
“Sadly many health systems across the world were overwhelmed by the pandemic due to inadequate emergency preparedness and response, largely due to inadequate human resources, infrastructural deficit and medical consumables, including Personal Protective Equipment,” he said.
The NMA Chairman reminded federal and state governments of the Abuja Declaration of 2001 to allocate at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to the health sector.
He pointed out that as COVID-19 spread and wreaked havoc across the world, the Federal Government should fulfill the pledge of allocating 15 per cent to health.
Issa observed that there was need for Nigeria to prioritise the health sector and allocate adequate resources, adding that Nigeria’s allocation to health in 2020 was a mere 4.16 per cent of the budget.
“The COVID-19 must jolt the Nigerian government to adequately invest in healthcare systems,” he said.
He charged the citizenry to continue to be vigilant and maintain the COVID-19 guidelines especially now that Nigeria appeared to be flattening the curve with rate of new infections.
Issa also condemned the kidnapping and killings of doctors and other health workers by insurgents and urged the Federal Government to do all in its power to rescue those in captivity.
The Chairman also urged the Federal Government to ensure the security and safety of other health workers as well as all Nigerians.
He further urged state governments to pay salaries and allowances of doctors.