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 the correspondents of The Punch, 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 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.”

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.”

In Enugu State, medical doctors  employed the state government have started receiving hazard medical allowance.

The General Secretary of the ARD in the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, Dr Chukwunoso Ofonere, confirmed the payment to one of our correspondents in a telephone conversation.

In Enugu State, medical doctors  employed the state government have started receiving hazard medical allowance.

The General Secretary of the ARD in the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, Dr Chukwunoso Ofonere, confirmed the payment to one of our correspondents in a telephone conversation.

Although Ofonere said the state government  started the hazard allowance payment about three months ago, he regretted that the payment was below the Federal Government’s recommendation.

He said, “Yes, ARD ESUT receives hazard allowance, but not according to the Federal Government’s recommendation. The Federal Government recommended  50 per cent of basic salary as hazard allowance.

On its part, the ARD at the OOUTH   said it had yet to receive  hazard allowance .

In Ogun State, the  Secretary of the ARD  at the OOUTH, Dr Tope Osundara  disclosed this on Tuesday, while responding to an enquiry from one of our correspondents on whether resident doctors had started receiving the allowance or not.

Osundara said the NARD members had only collected 300 per cent of  the former N5,000 hazard allowance, which he said was N15,000.

He said what the association requested was 50 per cent of the consolidated basic salary.

He said, “Fifty per cent  of the consolidated basic salary  is the hazard allowance we requested, but government is paying N15,000 naira which is 300 per cent of the initial 5,000 naira hazard allowance they were paying .

“Government hasn’t started the implementation of the 50 per cent of consolidated basic salary. They haven’t been paying  any doctor in Ogun State .

“The hazard allowance we have  received so far is just 300 per cent. We haven’t received  anything other than that.”

But the state government, which spoke through the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Communications,  Remmy Hazzan, said it had commenced the payment  of new hazard allowance for all medical workers.

Hazzan said Governor Dapo Abiodun’s administration met N5,000 hazard allowance when it assumed office and increased   to N15,000 which is  300 per cent .

He however said the new agitation of the resident  doctors might force the government to go back to the drawing board

In a related development, the President of the  National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Abdulrafiu Adeniji, said out of 1,350 nurses tested for COVID-19, 535 were confirmed positive.

Source: The Punch

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