Against the background of conflicting directives on the enforcement of the Presidential lockdown/curfew and the attendant harassment of healthcare workers in the course of discharging their responsibilities, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA),Lagos State Branch, has called on all doctors under the auspices of the NMA in Lagos State to proceed on an indefinite sit-at-home directive, starting from 6pm today, Wednesday, May 20, 2020
According to statement from the NMA, Lagos State Branch, signed by its Chairman, Dr. Saliu Oseni and Dr. Ramon Moronkola, the secretary of the association, the NMA said the doctors’ sit-at-home would continue until such time when the government and the Lagos State commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu were clear on how they wish to operationalise the lockdown/restriction of movement directive as it relates to essential service and service providers, including healthcare services and medical doctors.
Similarly, the duo said doctors would observe the ‘sit-at-home’ directive until “a written statement, signed by Government and the appropriate Police Authorities, with clear terms on the status of essential services, including healthcare services and its providers, should be issued and advertised in the social and mainstream media, and a copy submitted to the Secretariat of the Lagos State Branch of NMA.”
Giving the background on the incessant harassment of healthcare workers in Lagos, the NMA said whereas the directives of President Muhamadu Buhari, through the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, was clear on the exemption of essential workers including doctors and other health-workers from the ongoing lockdown/movement restrictions, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, has been issuing conflicting directives on social and mainstream media to the effect that essential workers including doctors and other health-workers were not exempted.
Consequently, the NMA said it was inundated yesterday (Tuesday, 19th of May, 2020) with calls on several cases of harassments and intimidation of doctors and other health-workers by Officers and Men of the Lagos State Police command.
Oseni and Moronkola said, “The healthcare workers were either resuming duty, returning home, or on-transit to heed an emergency call.
“There was a most disturbing case of an ambulance conveying an injured patient, which was prevented from moving to destination while the attending health-workers were harassed and temporarily detained.”
The NMA recalled that this same ugly situation had occurred sometimes in the early phase of the ongoing lockdown/restriction of movement based on similar conflicting directives from the Lagos State Commissioner of Police. “It took the intervention of the Governor of the State, following a petition by the Association, for normalcy to be restored.”