The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has disclosed that the association lost 16 members to COVID-19 for the past eight months since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Prof Baba Issa, Chairman of Kwara NMA disclosed this on Monday during a Press Conference organised to mark the 2020 Physician’s Week held in Ilorin.

He said: “Our country, Nigeria in the past eight months has had a fair share of the disease and has battled relentlessly to contain the rising cases of the infection, affecting every state in the nation, albeit disproportionately.

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“As at 8th of October, there were 1,031 doctors who were exposed to the virus in Nigeria and 321 confirmed cases, sadly 16 doctors, mortality rate of 4.98 percent of our members were painfully lost in the battle to save the lives of Nigerians.

“This is the price we have to pay in obedience to Hippocratic oaths,” he said

Issa observed that the COVID-19 outbreak was an unexpected, alarming health crisis that has tested the best of health systems even in Europe and America.

According to him, COVID-19 pandemic has nakedly exposed the inadequacies of health systems around the world in response to the pandemic.

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“Sadly many health systems across the world were overwhelmed by the pandemic due to inadequate emergency preparedness and response, largely due to inadequate human resources, infrastructural deficit and medical consumables, including Personal Protective Equipment,” he said.

The NMA Chairman reminded of the Abuja Declaration of 2001, to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to the health sector.

He pointed out that as COVID-19 spreads and wrecks havoc across the world, while appealing to the Federal Government to fulfil the pledge of allocating the 15 percent to health.

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Issa observed that there is need for Nigeria to prioritize the health sector and allocate adequate resources, adding that Nigeria’s allocation to health in 2020 was a mere 4.16 percent of the budget.

“The COVID-19 must jolt the Nigerian government to adequately invest in healthcare systems,” he said.

He charged all Nigerians to continue to be vigilant and maintained the COVID-19 guidelines especially now that Nigeria appears to be flattening the curve with rate of new infections.

Issa also condemned the kidnapping and killings of doctors and other health workers by insurgents and therefore urged the Federal Government to do all in its power to rescue those in captivity while ensuring the security and safety of other health workers as well as all Nigerians.

He also urge State Government to pay salaries and allowances of doctors.

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