By Iyemah David
The founder of the Dr Aminu Magashi Heroic Annual Health Award, said healthcare workers in Nigeria deserve more recognition for their service to humanity.
Dr Aminu Magashi Garba said this at the maiden edition of the Award Ceremony, to commemorate the United Nations Public Service Day in Abuja on Thursday.
The award was organised by the foundation in partnership with Heroic Discovery and Community Development Centre (HEDCODEC) an NGO, and the African Health Budget Network (AHBN).
Dr Magashi said the COVID-19 pandemic had been difficult for everyone, but particularly more difficult for healthcare workers.
According to him, for healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic, the experience was and continues to be traumatic.
“In the beginning, they faced the unknown of a new disease and over time had to treat patients through various surges in infection across the nation.
Magashi said the country was faced with local and global public health challenges, therefore there was a need to stand in solidarity with healthcare workers, as the world was still reeling under the pandemic.
“They have been putting their lives at risk to fight the virus, and all countries and organisations must work together to recognise healthcare workers,” he said.
He said that there is a lot of complexity in delivering health care; a lot of moving parts that have to come together to make it happen.
He stressed that health workers who were trained and deployed where they were needed most were at the center of it all.
“If we don’t have the right people in place, no amount of product will help us succeed in the heat of the pandemic.
“The lab techs, IT professionals, drivers, cleaners, advocates, clinicians, they’re all health workers. And they’re all essential. We need to invest in them,” he added.
Mr Adeyemi Adeniran, Head of Department, Human Resources, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) Gwagwalada, said expressing gratitude to healthcare workers does not have to cost anything.
Adeniran appreciated all the awardees for the sacrifices they made daily, especially during the pandemic which had helped save countless lives.
“To all the awardees, your dedication, commitment and courage deserve our deepest gratitude and admiration.
“Let’s not forget healthcare workers dedicate their lives to caring for others. They often work long hours and are exposed to all sorts of potentially harmful viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms.
“They risk their own health to improve and maintain the health of others. While this is a noble cause, the outbreak of COVID-19 has proven that the health of healthcare workers is vitally important,” he stressed.
Mr Kabir Abddulsalam, Executive Director, Heroic Discovery and Community Development Centre, (HEDCODEC), an NGO, said the award was instituted to celebrate and encourage the most outstanding frontline healthcare who have demonstrated and achieved great excellence in their field of endeavour.
“We focus on healthcare workers within Bwari and Gwagwalada Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory.
“For this median edition, out of 52 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC)in Bwari area council and 33 PHC in Gwagwalada area council, we randomly selected three each.
“After our advocacy, we submitted awareness letters to the facilities for participation. We received a total of 64 entries for five categories from six facilities in Gwagwalada and Bwari area council.
“38 healthcare providers were shortlisted; which was later scaled down to 25 finalists after rigorous scrutiny by the editorial committee, he said.”
While appreciating the organisers of the award, Mrs Hadiza Usman, who won the friendliest staff at the Old Kutunku PHC, Gwagwalada, said that the world has quickly seen the devastation that can occur if healthcare workers were ill and unable to work.
Usman, who was said interacts freely with antenatal attendants that led to high turn out of pregnant women for Antenatal Care Services in the facility, said that steps must be taken to protect the health of those who have dedicated their lives to caring for others in the country.
Mrs Hannatu Uthman, Sabon Gari PHC, Bwari, said in the light of the pandemic, it has become apparent that the health of healthcare providers is vital.
Mrs Uthman, who was described as a bridge-builder with a passion for health care service delivery, said that in order to be able to care for sick patients,healthcare workers need to be able to remain healthy, even when working in close proximity to germs, viruses, bacteria, amongst others.
Speaking, Mr Salisu Muhammad, Senior Advisor Health Financing and Accountability, AHBN, called on Chief Medical Directors and other heads of health facilities should ensure that health workers were getting adequate breaks during their shifts, and time off between shifts, to be able to carry on with their duties.
According to Muhammad, working in such conditions also takes its toll on the psychological health of health workers, so appropriate support services for them must also be put in place as a priority.
He stressed that Healthcare workers play a central and critical role in improving access and quality health care for Nigerians.
“They provide essential services that promote health, prevent diseases and deliver health care services to individuals, families and communities based on the primary health care approach, so we should always encourage them,” he explained.