It’s been over 90 days since a lockdown was implemented in Nigeria in response to the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic which has taken lives and crippled the world economy.

This has been an engaging time for everyone, as individuals are being urged to take hygiene seriously.

Businesses are taking the time to ensure safety in their transactions. Parents are even more protective of their children and not to mention, the frontline health workers who are constantly on their toes working for the safety of all.

The task of health workers is no easy matter especially as the pandemic has put them in the forefront of the public eye.

In the course of my research, it became clear that most people view health work as the diagnosis, treatment and discharge of patients, done by doctors and nurses.

But discussions with a health worker in Lagos state, South-West Nigeria, gave me a broader perspective of the pandemic and the different angles of the health worker’s duties.

Mrs. Julie Mogbo, a registered nurse with the Family Bond Group in Lagos, is a health worker.
Popularly called the family bond nurse, Mrs. Mogbo works in the field.
Her major duties during the pandemic have been to help train health workers in the frontline; render support to child-bearing families and also strive to develop a perinatal program that would cater to the antenatal and postnatal needs of families in this pandemic and thereafter.

She was open enough to share her perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic as it unfolds.

“The figures aren’t looking good at all. In truth, if we had done the lockdown early enough knowing that our health systems aren’t prepared and knowing how much business relations we have with China especially, we might have been able to avoid the escalation to this present stage.

Private Organisation involvement

“They say it is better late than never. I still believe we can salvage the situation by getting our private organizations actively involved in this fight.

Mrs Mogbo during a training session
Mrs Mogbo (right) trains health workers in the frontline of the pandemic

“Neither Hospitals nor health workers should be overwhelmed because COVID-19 isn’t the only disease needing emergency treatment.

“This is why all hands must be on deck because the government alone cannot carry the weight,” she said.
Citizens’ role play
“Also, we the citizens need to hold our leaders and the government accountable in terms of creating strategies necessary to flatten the curve and meet the needs of the masses.

“It’s obvious that hunger is a huge need that has to be met in full force if we want to maintain social distancing and avoid people compromising the safety of their health.”

She said that health work had unfortunately been relegated to being only about clinical duties and clarified that this was a wrong notion adding that frontline health workers needed a lot more support and response in order to dispense their duties.

“The frontline workers have been amazing during this pandemic but we need to understand that health work doesn’t begin and end in the hospital.

Health work dimensions

“There are health workers who handle critical patients on emergency; there are those called Family physicians whose duties lie in monitoring patients who have been discharged to ensure there are no relapses or even possible death.

“There are those who offer strict home services like the mid-wives for example, who are actually supposed to fall in this category.

“Not to mention, those who work at the laboratories, a very sensitive field. Even the cleaners can’t be left out in the list of health workers today.

“So you see the list is endless and each person has an important task which cannot be ignored or sidelined. They all need to be well furnished to exercise their responsibilities,” she explained.

In concluding the interview, Mrs. Mogbo said the pandemic was a call for people to live healthier lives both physically and mentally.

Mrs Mogbo with a participant during training
“Training is key. We can see now that a lot of people have health deficiencies which opens up a whole new angle to the disease.” – Mrs Mogbo

Above all, she explained that health workers needed to feel a sense of security as the work before them wasn’t only tasking but unpredictable.

 Sustainability in COVID-19

“This is the most demanding time for any health worker in the world.

“ They need their allowances paid in full as and when due. If possible, a hazard allowance, because they go into work not knowing if they will come out the same.

“So they need to feel a sense of security. They need insurance considering what they are up against.

“Also, the pandemic came at a time when such a virus felt new to a lot of health workers. So training is key as they execute their duties because we can see now that a lot of people have health deficiencies which opens up a whole new angle to the disease.

“So health workers need to be prepared. They need to be well equipped to discharge their duties,” she said.

Mrs. Mogbo also had advice for administrators of health facilities.

“Medical supplies shouldn’t be lacking and you can’t keep frustrating their work by asking them to improvise.

“The facilities need to be top-notch. I tell you this, a health worker is just as human and emotional as any other person.

“They need things around them to work well so they can apply professionalism to their duties.

“If these are met, health workers will put in nothing but the best in dispensing their duties and truthfully, that’s the attitude this pandemic needs,” she concluded.