President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an additional N8.9 billion for COVID-19 hazard allowances for all health workers in Nigeria.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, made this known at the bi-weekly Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) briefing on Thursday.
He said the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for hospitals and isolation centres will also be prioritised moving forward.
“I am pleased to announce that Mr. President has graciously approved additional N8.9bn for COVID-19 hazard allowance to all medical health workers. In addition, the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for hospitals and isolation centres will be given priority,” Mr Mustapha said.
Hazard pay, a wage supplement paid to workers who do dangerous jobs, has been at the centre of the grouse of Nigerian health workers since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic.
Health workers, being the first respondents to patients, face exposure to the coronavirus and as a result, more than a thousand have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Nigerian government had promised a special COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowance of 50 per cent of Consolidated Basic Salary to health workers in federal health institutions and designated COVID-19 centres.
Prior to this, health workers received N5,000 as hazard pay across board.
But doctors, under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) downed tools on Monday over the government’s failure to fulfil its promises.
They have repeatedly protested the lack of access to full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and life insurance especially for their members on the front line who die while treating people suffering from COVID-19.
The association, however, called off the four-day-old strike on Thursday following a heated meeting with government officials a night before.
It said the decision to suspend the strike was taken in order to give the federal government time to address their demands. This, the association said l, will be reviewed in two weeks time.
The doctors had in June downed tools for one week over same outstanding demands.
Mr Mustapha, who doubles as the chairman of the PTF, said the coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted all aspects of life including the economic and finances of the government.
He said this development “has made it imperative for all citizens irrespective of their professions and particularly health workers to reawaken their sense of humanity and patriotism.”
He noted that industrial actions on the part of the health workers could threaten gains already made in the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“The health and survival of our dear nation is important and we should eschew any action that will diminish the gains made in the containment of the pandemic so far,” he said.