Health Advocate Calls For More Recognition For Healthcare Workers

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Dr. Aminu Magashi.
The coordinator, African Health Budget Network, Dr. Aminu Magashi.

The founder of the Heroic Annual Health Award, Dr. Aminu Magashi has commended healthcare workers in Nigeria and called on the government to recognise their services to humanity and bravery more.

Magashi said this at the maiden edition of the Dr. Aminu Magashi Annual Health Award Ceremony to commemorate the United Nations Public Service Day yesterday in Abuja.

The award was organised by the foundation in partnership with a non-governmental organisation Heroic Discovery and Community Development Centre (HEDCODEC) and the African Health Budget Network. 

Magashi said the COVID-19 pandemic had been difficult for everyone, but particularly more difficult for healthcare workers.

According to him, for healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic, the experience was and continues to be traumatic. 

“In the beginning they faced the unknown of a new disease and over time had to treat patients through various surges in infection across the nation.

Magashi said the country was faced with local and global public health challenges, therefore there was a need to stand in solidarity with healthcare workers, as the world was still reeling under the pandemic.

“They have been putting their lives at risk to fight the virus and all countries and organisations must work together to recognise healthcare workers,” he said.

He added that there is a lot of complexity in delivering health care; a lot of moving parts that have to come together to make it happen. 

According to him, health workers who were trained and deployed where they were needed most were at the centre of it all.

“If we don’t have the right people in place, no amount of product will help us succeed in the heat of the pandemic. 

“The lab techs, IT professionals, drivers, cleaners, advocates, clinicians, they’re all health workers and they’re all essential. We need to invest in them,” he added. 

In his remarks, the head, department of human resources, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) Gwagwalada, Mr. Adeyemi Adeniran, said expressing gratitude to healthcare workers does not have to cost anything. 

Adeniran appreciated all the awardees for the sacrifices they made daily, especially during the pandemic which had helped save countless lives. 

“To all the awardees, your dedication, commitment and courage deserve our deepest gratitude and admiration. Let’s not forget healthcare workers dedicate their lives to caring for others. They often work long hours and are exposed to all sorts of potentially harmful viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms. 

“They risk their health to improve and maintain the health of others. While this is a noble cause, the outbreak of COVID-19 has proven that the health of healthcare workers is vitally important,” he stressed. 

Similarly, the executive director, Heroic Discovery and Community Development Centre, (HEDCODEC), Mr. Kabir Abddulsalam, said the award was instituted to celebrate and encourage the most outstanding frontline healthcare workers who have demonstrated and achieved excellence in their fields of endeavour. 

“We focus on healthcare workers within Bwari and Gwagwalada area council in the Federal Capital Territory. 

“For this median edition, out of 52 primary healthcare centres (PHC) in Bwari and Gwagwalada area councils, where we selected 33 PHCs and 3 PHCs, respectively. 

“After our advocacy, we submitted awareness letters to the facilities for participation. We received a total of 64 entries for five categories from six facilities in Gwagwalada and Bwari area councils.

“So far, 38 healthcare providers were shortlisted. It was later scaled down to 25 finalists after rigorous scrutiny by the editorial committee, he said.”

While appreciating the organisers of the award, Mrs. Hadiza Usman, who won the award for friendliest staff at the Old Kutunku PHC, Gwagwalada, said that the world has quickly seen the devastation that can occur if healthcare workers were ill and unable to work.

Usman, whose friendliness and care for antenatal attendants resulted in huge turnouts for antenatal services at the clinic, said steps must be taken to protect the health of those who have dedicated their lives to caring for others in the country. 

Mrs. Hannatu Uthman from the Sabon Gari PHC Bwari, said the pandemic has made the health of healthcare providers an issue of concern. 

Uthman, who was described as a bridge-builder with a passion for healthcare service delivery, said healthcare workers need to be able to remain healthy, even when working close to germs, viruses, bacteria, amongst others, to care for sick patients. 

Speaking, senior advisor, Health Financing and Accountability, AHBN, Mr. Salisu Muhammad, called on the chief medical directors and other heads of health facilities to ensure that health workers get adequate breaks during their shifts and time off between shifts, to be able to carry on with their duties. 

According to Muhammad, working under such conditions takes its toll on the psychological health of health workers. So, appropriate support services must also be put in place as a priority.

Racheal Abujah
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