Boss Mustapha, PTF face fresh crisis in coronavirus control, 100 isolated patients in danger

May 24, 2020
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Boss Mustapha

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, and the Task force, itself, have been thrown into fresh crisis in the control of the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria. This is not unconnected with the failure to ensure the payment of the allowances of Volunteers in the past three months who are on interventionist national service at a federal health institution used as isolation and treatment centre in Lagos.

According, the Volunteers at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) shut down operations on Saturday in protest of non-payment of three months special allowances. Apparently, the shutdown of operations at LUTH which has been a significant isolation and treatment centre for coronavirus patients increases the risk of the lives of over 100 patients being handled at the tertiary health facility.

It was revealed that patients waiting for clearance or further treatment tests on Saturday to confirm their status for discharge were denied services.

The Presidential Task Force had visited the LUTH but failed to guarantee the Volunteers when the special allowances would be paid, thus, could not persuade the frontline health’s not to down tools.

Ironically, the PTF appears not to expand the intervention funds available to the Task Force to improving the welfare of frontline health workers in the country. The Volunteers are not on conventional health services, as the Task Force is not a regular public administration structure of the federal government. Having received intervention funds from the federal government and neglecting the welfare of the Volunteer frontline health workers, essentially, in federal health facilities, is an indictment on the PTF Chairman and the Task Force. The allowances of frontline health workers cannot seldom be excluded from the intervention budget of the PTF for which funds are being requested from the federal government. The PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) had in response to a question on accountability of about the N25 billion coronavirus donations expalioned at daily briefing in Abuja that the Task Force only request for funds from the federal government and not in control of the donated billions, which he said is being kept with the Accountant-General of the Federation.

LUTH has been an effective coronavirus response health facility in Lagos which has been the epicenter of coronavirus spread due to tis location on the intercontinental shelf.

The PTF Chairman, including President Muhammadu Buhari, have over time religiously praised the frontline health workers risking their lives in the fight against coronavirus in the country but within the administrative structures, neglecting their welfare.

The LUTH incident may be one of the many cases of unpaid special allowances; the Volunteers at LUTH may have just summoned courage to lead the protest which may spread to other health facilities across the country. The protest timing may just be right as government appears to be winding down on coronavirus interventions at which time getting the allowances paid may be difficult to achieve.

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