The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has on Tuesday, stated that the Nigerian Police statement on the ongoing 14 days lockdown, is capable of exposing healthcare workers to unwarranted harassment by personnel of the Nigeria Police.
The association disclosed this in a press release titled: Addressing the Uncomplimentary Statement by Mr Hakeem Odumosu, Commissioner of Police Lagos State
The association stated that its attention has been drawn to the comments made by the commissioner of police in Lagos state pertaining to the movements of health workers in the state against the background of restriction of movement informed by the fight against the spread of the COVID 19 disease in the country.
It reads: “The comments were aired on TVC News on 31st March, 2020. The CP said, amongst other things, that health workers, in addition to carrying valid means of identification, must show evidence of being on duty whenever they move around the state.
“The NMA is the umbrella Association of all doctors in Nigeria. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National body mobilized doctors all over the country to meet the challenge posed by the disease.
“Indeed, our members, in several states suspended legitimate demands for unpaid salaries and other emoluments in order to focus solely on the fight against COVID 19. Presently, our stoic members are on the frontline deploying their knowledge and skills, at great risk to their lives, against the COVID 19 pandemic while others are trying to keep the hospitals for other medical conditions.
“The NMA is, therefore, at pains to decipher the logic behind the call by the CP for doctors and other health workers to carry evidence of being on duty. Is the CP suggesting that health workers engage in “illegal duty” or wander about aimlessly? Perhaps, the CP underestimates the enormity of the work at hand.
“For the avoidance of doubt, all hands are needed on deck at this critical time. Several countries have already called thousands of health workers out of retirement. In peacetime, the health system in the country suffered from shortages of health care workers, it, therefore, stands to reason that the ongoing war against COVID 19 demands the mobilization of all hands and not curious statements, such as the one credited to the CP, which are capable of creating unnecessary bottlenecks for our members and other healthcare workers.
“It must be stressed also that the statement by the CP is capable of exposing our members and other healthcare workers to unwarranted harassment by personnel of the Nigeria Police. Already, we have received a few unsavoury reports from our members pertaining to the enforcement of restriction on movements leading to their harassment.
“Medical doctors are not unmindful of the great responsibility that the profession places on them at difficult times like these, especially considering the need to continue to keep the hospitals open and attend to other life-threatening conditions outside COVID-19. These services are also rendered at both public and private facilities.
“It is also imperative for the CP to realise that the health workers are always on duty as you can be called to report at any and all times, also that the other ancillary health staff are part of health team.
“Indeed, we are the first line of defence and the last line of retreat in the ongoing pandemic. However, we need the support and collaboration of other stakeholders to effectively discharge their duties.
“We, therefore, call on the Lagos state government and all Nigerians to advise Mr Odumosu on the possible implication(s) of his statement as any harassment of our members will elicit a strong response from the Association.
“Meanwhile, NMA Lagos urges her members to remain vigilant and maintain high index of suspicion, while we advise citizens to stay at home and observe all necessary precautions, we also reassure them that we shall be available at work for them.