No fewer than 36 nurses were infected with the deadly COVID-19 virus during the heat of the pandemic in Nigeria, the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, University College Hospital, Ibadan, disclosed on Monday.
Making this disclosure at the Foundation Laying ceremony of the Nurses’ House at the UCH was Mrs Ronke Bello, Chairman, NANNM, UCH.
Describing the year 2020 as a critical year during which the World Health Organisation challenged nurses and other health workers to face the global pandemic, Bello said, “Our nurses also got infected at the University College Hospital at the peak of the pandemic in Nigeria. We have it on record. At least, 36 of us were infected at UCH. Some (infections) were severe, some mild, some moderate. But, to the glory of God, we all came out of it.
“We did not record any death or loss to the effect of COVID-19 despite our level of exposure to the infection. We came in contact with those who had been diagnosed and those who were yet to be diagnosed.”
Citing the shortage of frontline health workers as the bane of the Nigerian health sector, she urged governments at all levels to prioritise the health needs of the citizens in its developmental agenda.
She said, “It is no fallacy that the massive brain drain that has hit the health sector is impacting our nation negatively. Of course, we have had a lot of nurses exited UCH for greener pastures where their work is better valued and better appreciated. A lot of our nurses are exiting every day.
“Day by day, the management is bringing in nurses to ensure that those of us who are overwhelmed can be relieved a little bit. I can tell you that nurses in UCH are overwhelmed but they (management) are employing to cushion the effect of brain drain. We want to let the government know that it is not in the best interest of the nation for us to have brain drain having trained best hands and they just exit the country.
“I would just suggest that government should improve the welfare package of nurses and make the environment more conducive for the workers so that professionalism can be established. This is the year of the nurses and the midwives. It is the year that was declared by the World Health Organisation that we have to face the global pandemic.”
Mrs Omobolanle Egbinola, who represented the state NANNM Chairman, Dr Delete Adeyemi, on the occasion, said, “I thank God that something like this is coming out of UCH. I thank God that in UCH today, we are having the foundation laid. As nurses, let’s give our patients respectful care. This can be therapeutical and it can help them get well quick.”
The Head of Department, Nursing Education, Mrs Moronke Awodiya, said, “We know what has happened to nurses in some hospitals in other places in the country. We thank God that we are alive to tell this wonderful story. It is one thing for leaders to dream and another thing for the followers to key into the dream. We know that God who helped you at the beginning would see you to the end of it.”