The Nigerian Cordinating Council of Public Service International (PS) on Wednesday launched the “Safe Workers, Saves Life” Campaign to draw government’s attention to the plight of humanitarian workers, especially health workers in the country.
The Public Services International (PSI) is a global trade union federation representing 30 million working women and men who deliver vital public services in 167 countries
The Campaign was launched to mark this year’s World Humanitarian Day, which is held to celebrate aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.
At least, more than 100 public service workers including Aid workers have lost their lives in the hands of the insurgents in the northeast part of the country, while over 1,000 health care workers in the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic have been infected with the virus across the country.
Addressing journalists during the event to Mark the Humanitarian Day, health workers unions which are affiliated to the PSI, lend their voices to call on government to release all outstanding salaries to health workers, as well as increased funding for public health institutions.
In his address, Comrade Abdulrafiu Adeniji mni, president of National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) which is an affiliate of PSI, lamented that government both at state and federal level pay lip service to the plight of health workers in the country.
Comrade Adeniji said the infrastructure in public health institutions are very poor, just as he lamented lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers in the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also decried that health workers have become targets of insurgents in the northeast part of the country, saying several workers have been kidnapped and others killed.
He called on government to put in place adequate health insurance for health care workers, saying the agitation by unions have lingered since 2011 for the insurance of health workers.
Adeniji said, “in the northeast, we have health workers whose lives have been cut short by insurgency and banditry. We should not forget the sufferings of health workers in the fight against COVID-19.”
He also frowned at situations where the workers work and their salaries are not paid.
The NANNM president thanked all frontline actors working tirelessly at this period of COVID-19 and commiserated with families of those who have lost their lives to the virus in course of performing their duties.
Also speaking, the PSI general Secretary in charge of Africa and Arab region, Comrade Sani Baba, lamented that spending on public infrastructure is very poor.
He said only few African countries are committed to the Abuja declaration of 2001 to allocate 15 per cent of their annual budget to health sector. According to him, some countries are allocating less than 5 per cent
Sani Baba therefore called more funding of public health institutions across the continent.
In his address, president of another PSI affiliate union, the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Comrade Biobelemoye Joy Josiah reiterated calls that the government should release backlog of salaries owed health workers.
He said the workers are also concerned with the Humanitarian crisis across the country, while lamenting the plight of displaced persons.