COVID-19: Health workers’ll receive allowances, life insurance next week –Minister

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said the Federal Government has concluded plans for medical workers on the front line of the coronavirus outbreak to receive hazard allowances and life insurance coverage next week.

Ehanire, who spoke during a special live programme of Channels Television in commemoration of Democracy Day, on Friday, stated that efforts were made to ensure that health workers were protected and incentivised.

The minister noted that the Federal Government was conscious of the need to make personal protective equipment available for medical professionals treating COVID-19.

He said, “We make sure they work in shifts and, after the shift, they all have a period by which they are assured to be virus and infection-free before they go to their families. We also have provided social measures like the insurance and hazard allowance. Now, all those are measures that are already established and signed. The details are being worked out.

“You know that there are processes in everything. They have to be made available. They have to be allocated. They have to do the paperwork around it. So, I spoke with the Minister of Finance just yesterday (Thursday) and she has assured me that the processes are on track, and by next week, they would have finished all the formalities.

“That is the way it goes when you are dealing with finances. But the important thing is to know the start date is already guaranteed. So, whether you get it today or next week, the date it is going to start has already been agreed upon and the payment is assured. So, health workers need not worry and need not have any concerns that they will not be paid.”

Ehanire also stated that clinical trials to assess herbal medications for the treatment of the coronavirus had yet to yield conclusive results, adding that Nigeria and other countries were collaborating on a solidarity trial anchored by the World Health Organisation.

According to the minister, some of the drugs are said to have worked in vitro, that is, outside of the body, though it is not yet fully confirmed that it works inside the body – in vivo.

He said, “Recently, we received samples from Madagascar, which we have given to our research centres. The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research in Yaba, NAFDAC and the organs – the Ministry of Science and Technology – are looking into these herbal remedies.

“We have not got any results as yet, and the indigenous herbs that have been also been developed for trials have also not yet yielded a result. As far as other medicines are concerned, we are working with the World Health Organisation Solidarity Trial to see what medicines may work.

“We have tried chloroquine. We are trying hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin and some other combinations, including antiretroviral drugs, which are believed to have the potential to stop the growth of the virus. The tests are still going on. We do not have any conclusive reports as yet.”