Ebola: Senate seeks urgent resolution of health workers’ strike
Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The Senate has resolved to intervene in the current crisis between the Federal Government and workers in the health sector, warning that the ongoing industrial action by health personnel will worsen if Nigeria should experience an Ebola outbreak.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly also called for screening of passengers at the ports, adding that health institutions should be put on red alert because of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The resolutions were made following the adoption of a motion moved by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos-Central) at the plenary on Tuesday.
The lawmakers resolved to urge the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), “to take necessary steps to check immigration.”
They also urged the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, “to ensure alertness to combat whatever cases that may arise and get the Ebola vaccine ready for an emergency.”
The Senate urged Nigerians who travel to other African countries “to ensure the utmost level of care to avoid getting infected.”
The Chief Whip, Senator Sola Adeyeye, however, pointed out that the disease, if spread to Nigeria, might have a devastating effect as workers in the country’s public health institutions were on strike.
Adeyeye added, “We must remind ourselves that as we speak right now, many health workers in our country are on strike. Should there be a re-introduction of this viral problem in our country, we won’t even have the health workers to attend to it. Because of the possibility of such a crisis, we must urge an immediate intervention in this long-lasting industrial action so that we can have the workers, God forbid, to attend to whatever health problem may arise in our Republic.”
Adeyeye, therefore, urged the Senate “to ask for a quick resolution of the ongoing crisis involving health workers in many Nigeria’s public hospitals.”
The prayer was unanimously granted by the senators.
Moving the motion, Tinubu urged the Federal Government to take precautionary measures to prevent a recurrence of Ebola spread to the country.
She said, “The Senate recalls with great distress that an infected immigrant, Patrick Sawyer, (a Liberian) who arrived Nigeria on the 23rd of July, (2014) was the index case of the Ebola virus in Nigeria. With varying symptoms ranging from fever to diarrhoea, there was a total of 869 contacts and 20 laboratory-confirmed cases were recorded.
“The Senate is disturbed that recent reports by media outlets and the World Health Organisation show that the disease is back in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo with 19 dead and 39 infected recorded so far. The Senate is further reminded that the DRC is 435 kilometres by air from Abuja and is easily accessible via a flight from Lagos that takes less than three hours.
“The Senate also notes the report of WHO stating that Nigeria and other African countries are at modest risk of spread.
“The Senate is worried that unless we prepare our hospitals, properly equipped with the Ebola vaccine where necessary, this is an epidemic we might be unable to take up and will only cause untold hardship. The Senate is further worried that if we do nothing, given our population, we may well be on our way to creating a global situation.”
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