Health workers under the umbrella of the Public Service International (PSI) and its affiliates, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) as well as the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) have called on the Government to ensure Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria get access to quality healthcare as well as the COVID-19 vaccines.
The heath workers made the call during a visit to the IDP Camp in Durumi area of Abuja as part of events to commemorate the 2021 World Humanitarian Day.
NANNM and MHWUN are Nigerian affiliates of Public Service International (PSI) which is the global union for workers in healthcare, with 30 million members in 154 countries.
The workers used this year’s event to also urged government to support the call on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to waive copyright laws on Covid-19 medical products to allow developing countries who have the capacity to produce such products and enable their citizens easily access the vaccine.
Speaking to journalists during the visit, Moradeke Abiodun-Badru, the PSI Project Coordinator for English-Speaking West Africa, said the World Humanitarian Day is a global day to celebrate frontline actors who are on daily basis risking lives to provide humanitarian services to people in emergency situations around the world.
She also explained that it is a day to remember healthcare workers who have died in the course of providing services and also to call on government to pay serious attention to welfare of frontline workers.
She said, “The last one year has not been so palatable for healthcare workers in Nigeria. We have had incessant attacks on heathcare facilities, we have had cases of abduction of nurses in their health facilities. It is so bad now that in some states, it is difficult to ask nurses and Midwives especially to go to hospital on night shifts in their uniform because bandits and insurgents are looking for healthcare Workers to abduct. It is very serious. We are asking government to look into it and provide more security around healthcare facilities to secure the Health workers”
She said this year’s campaign is focused on ensuring that IDPs have access to Covid-19 vaccine.
She said, “On COVID-19 vaccines, our focus this year, is to focused on access to vaccines for the vulnerables, people in IDPs camps and Refugees. We are imploring government to intensify efforts in ensuring that all the vulnerable groups are reached with vaccines and that it is the right of IDPs most especially to have access to the Covid-19 vaccines.”
Also speaking, Sani Baba Mohammed, the PSI Regional Secretary for Africa & Arab Countries said the PSI is using the occasion to draw government attention to the plight of IDPs.
He said government has to ensure that the IDPs who are vulnerable groups have access to health facilities and quality education
He expressed concerns that wealthy countries discriminating against developing nations in vaccine distribution.
He said, “We are calling on other African countries to join South Africa and India that are in the forefront in calling for the waivers so that other countries can at least be allowed to produce these vaccines if they have the capacity. Because so far, the entire continent of Africa, we have not even vaccinated up to 17 percent of our population, when other rich countries in other parts of the world have done more than 80 percent. ”
Earlier, one of IDPs, Idris Ibrahim who is the spokesman for the Durumi IDPs and Coordinator of Abuja based IDP camps, thanked the PSI for visiting the camp.
He however lamented that IDPs in Abuja find it difficult to access healthcare facilities due to high cost of healthcare.
He said, “I can say clearly that no IDP in Abuja can access medical healthcare in Abuja. No hospital welcomes IDPs anymore because of the Bills. In fact patients have been thrown out of hospitals. One patients was detained for some months before he was able to pay the bill two weeks ago. So, we are calling on government to please look into our plight