Volunteer health workers who were trained by the Cross River State Ministry of Health in May, 2020, in preparedness for any possible outbreak of the novel Coronavirus have lamented over the non-payment of their training allowance, non-issuance of training certificate and non-engagement by the state government months after the training and the virus reported in the state.
The state had since recorded confirmed cases of the virus. Latest update from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) shows a total of 58 cases of the virus in the state, out of which 3 persons died.
Grassroot Reporters learned that the health workers, comprising medical doctors, medical laboratory scientists, pharmacists, nurses and technicians were trained on infection prevention and control (IPC) skills necessary to stay free from contracting the virus while caring for patients; and basic approved techniques of handling cases of covid-19, beginning from contact tracing to testing, isolation and treatment.
One of the aggrieved health workers who spoke with Grassroot Reporters on condition of anonymity said: “We finished the training since 3 months ago. After the training, the coordinator, Dr. David Ushie assured us that our training allowance will be paid in less than one week. He also assured that we’ll be given our training certificate, but since then, nothing. I heard that they selected few persons and paid N5,000 but all the people in the hall I trained have neither been engaged nor paid their training allowance, which every other state is paying not less than N10,000.”
Another health worker wondered why the training was called when the state was not ready to engage them, “Why did they call for the training in the first place? People are dying from Coronavirus yet, the state government is still playing politics. How can the state government train people on the testing, contact tracing, management and treatment of Covid-19 and abandon them for untrained persons?.”
When contacted, the Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu said all the volunteers trained by the state government are actively working in their various pillars of Covid-19.
Her words: “All the volunteers we trained on the different pillars are actively working in their various pillars. From data collectors to sample collectors, lab scientists, drivers, morticians, nurses, doctors, rapid response team, contact tracers… They’re all working.
“That training that was coordinated by Dr. David Ushie is a batch training. There are batches that are already working at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), there are batches that are already working at the General Hospital, Ogoja and there are batches that are already working at the isolation centre at Adiabo. It is a six weeks batch. When that six weeks is over, then we bring in another batch from the various cadre. When that is over, we bring in another batch, that’s the way it works.”
On those yet to be engaged, she said “There are people who are trained as first line while some are trained as backup, if the first line fail or they’re not available or they disappoint us, we fall on the backup.
Dr Edu denied owing any of the trainees transport allowance.
“There is nothing like training allowance, we only gave people transport. They were all given transport.”