COVID-19 hazard allowance: 33 states fail to pay as 854 doctors, nurses test positive

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No fewer than 33 states have yet to begin the implementation of the new hazard allowance for resident doctors, despite their risk of contracting COVID-19.

The Secretary of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria, Dr Bilqis Mohammed, in a WhatsApp message sent to one of our correspondents, listed states that had started paying the allowance as Lagos, Ogun, Nasarawa and Enugu.

But there was confusion over the payment of the hazard allowance in Ogun State. Contrary to the claim of the national body, the NARD in the state-owned Olabisi Onabanjo Teaching Hospital, Sagamu said its members were not being paid hazard allowance.

But the Enugu State branch of the association confirmed to newsmen that its members had started receiving the allowance.

Also on Tuesday, the number of nurses and resident doctors, who had contracted COVID-19, rose to 854.

The NARD secretary said while 319 resident doctors had contracted COVID-19, 14 of them had died of the virus.

The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives said 535 of its members had contracted the deadly virus.

Recall that the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnibe Mamora, had, on April 27 at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said the Federal Government had approved a special incentive which included hazard allowance, insurance and tax rebates for health workers.

Mamora said, “The Federal Government agreed to shelve the payment of the existing N5,000 hazard allowance, which had been in existence since 1991. In its place, a special COVlD-19 hazard and inducement allowance of 50 per cent of the consolidated basic salary is to be paid to all health workers in all the Federal Government teaching hospitals and federal medical centres and her designated COVlD-19 centres and primary health care centres to last for the first three months in the first instance.

“Forty per cent of consolidated basic salary would be paid as special COVlD-19 hazard and inducement allowance to health workers at special non-public hospitals and clinics in the federal ministries, departments and agencies for same three months’ period.”

Resident doctors had in June embarked on a strike to protest the non-implementation of the hazard allowance despite the agreement they signed with the Federal Government.

On Saturday, the NARD gave government an August 17 deadline to meet its demand.

The NARD National President, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, in an interview with The PUNCH, said it was unfortunate that the Federal Government tricked resident doctors to call off their recent strike with the hope that the hazard allowance would be paid.

He said, “The Federal Government paid two months allowance during the strike. Some of our members got it. Some did not get it. Immediately we called off the strike, they stopped the payment of the allowance.

“We are even more concerned about the Federal Government because we know if they start paying, the states would obey too.”

Most of our members still being paid N5,000 hazard allowance – Association

Giving further explanations, the NARD Publicity Secretary, Dr Stanley Egbogu, said “The Majority of the states still pay N5,000 hazard allowance. States like Abia are still owing doctors 16 months’ salaries.”