Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed has Thursday vowed to insure all the front-line health workers battling to keep Nigerians safe from the Coronavirus pandemic
Mrs Ahmed said in Abuja that adequate insurance, adequate compensation, and support during and in the aftermath of the COVID 19 pandemic” will be offered frontline health workers.
Health workers are always at the front line of any outbreak response, and, as such are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection with an outbreak pathogen (in this case COVID-19).
Hazards they will be insured against include pathogen exposure, long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma, and physical and psychological violence.
Also to be considered for COVID 19 insurance are senior government officials who also are going round to ensure things are in order and may be exposed to the virus.
Zainab Ahmed who thanked the brave health workers stated that government “would be engaging with the insurance industry to package special health care insurance which is life insurance for health care workers.”
To complement these initiatives, the government she added is “taking steps to activate, release and (where necessary) enhance the hazard allowances provided in the remuneration structure of the Federal health sector workers.”
The Federal Government urged the affected State governments to take similar measures.
In taking the decision to insure health workers, Ahmed said government “recognises the patriotism and sacrifice of our frontline healthcare workers, whose critical roles in combatting the COVID-19 Pandemic place their health and lives at risk.”
She thanked all of them for their “heroic efforts to protect your fellow citizens from disease and death.”
Federal government’s offer to procure insurance for the frontline workers is coming on the heels of the donations in the industry at the behest of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) to raise money from the major constituent units of the industry.
The insurance regulator’s letter of 3rd April, signed by the Acting Commissioner for Insurance Mr Sunday Thomas was the climax of the several meetings that have held in the industry.
The letter requested the operators to contribute a total of N500 million while each operator was asked to pay a minimum of N10 million.
According to the letter, “Sequel to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the current efforts by the federal and state governments to contain the spread of the pandemic in Nigeria, it has become necessary for the Nigerian insurance industry to support the efforts of the federal government.”
Thomas who commended the preliminary response of the industry on the proposed life cover for health personnel involved in the fight against the pandemic also sought a more impactful and coordinated response from the industry for maximum effect.
“To this end, and flowing from my engagement with the leaders in our industry, it has been resolved that the sum of N500 million be mobilised towards the initiative.”
“The mobilisation of the fund, which will be the industry contribution to tame the pandemic, is being coordinated by the commission. It has, therefore, become imperative that you support this initiative by the commission by donating generously to the fund” he said.
“I am by this letter requesting your kind support and generous donation to the fund. The donation from your company which is expected at a minimum of N10 million should please be paid into the Nigerian Insurers Association’s First Bank account number 2000917791”
Health worker’s rights under the COVID-19 pandemic according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) include that employers and managers in health facilities assume overall responsibility to ensure that all necessary preventive and protective measures are taken to minimize occupational safety and health risks in addition to providing information, instruction and training on occupational safety and health.
The training includes refresher training on infection prevention and control (IPC), use, putting on, taking off and disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE); as well as providing adequate IPC and PPE supplies (masks, gloves, goggles, gowns, hand sanitizer, soap, and water, cleaning supplies) in sufficient quantity to healthcare or other staff caring for suspected or confirmed cases including implementation of occupational safety and health management systems to identify hazards and assess risks to health and safety amongst others.