The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to fight Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The PPE included 125 infrared thermometers, 250 packs of face masks, 500 packs of hand gloves, 500 protective suits and 125 hand pumps among others.
The Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof. Mohammed Sambo, at the presentation of the PPE on Friday in Abuja, said the request to purchase the equipment was in line with the mandate of the scheme.
“Some weeks back, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, approached us and made a request to supply PPE to security agencies.
“In line with the mandate of NHIS, which is to ensure access to health care for all Nigerians, the procurement of the equipment also falls under our purview.
“It is important for NHIS to support the idea of PPE to organisations within its limited resources because health care personnel constitute an integral part of COVID-19 response.
“They are very important to COVID-19 response, apart from the virus, there are other health care problems that will continue to bedevil our society.
“If we lose sight of protecting our health workers, it will affect their service delivery on other diseases, that is why NHIS is stepping in to support,’’ he said,
In addition, Sambo said the NSCDC formed part of frontline workers, saying: “ they are in all isolation centres, providing support and protection to patients.
“So we treated that request from the PTF as a priority and with that and purchased the items for them,’’ he said.
Receiving the PPE, Abdullahi Muhammadu, Commandant General, NSCDC, thanked the NHIS for the support, urging for more support from other government organisations.
Muhammadu said he was very happy when he heard that NHIS was going to donate PPE to the corps as the gesture would help in supporting its mandate.
He said NSCDC as an international body, had the mandate for disaster management, both natural and man-made.
“COVID-19 falls under disaster management and the role was given to us by the PTF is to enforce guidelines to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“We have deployed over 9,500 officers across the country to enforce, implement and we have also deployed some corps to isolation centres,’’ the commandant general said.
Muhammadu said some officials had lost their lives in fulfilling the mandate given to corps by PTF in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
He cited examples of two officers who were knocked down by vehicles in an attempt to stop them during the lockdown, saying those were part of the challenges of the job.
“Unfortunately, we lost one of them but we thank God, the other one survived after he sustained some injury and was treated,’ he said.
According to him, the donation of PPE will boost the morale of the officers.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, said the task force had the mandate of coordinating the delivery of resources and donations to support the fight against COVID-19 and had nine key ministries as its members.
“A few months ago, I was approached by some of the security agencies for the provision of PPE.
“We know the challenges that security agencies face in the enforcement of the guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We had to look at our budget and found out that we did not have enough to supply to all the agencies, we then approached different agencies of government to see how they can complement what we already have.
“ Today, we are able to get NHIS to put in a contribution and direct this contribution to the agencies that we know are extremely important when it comes to the enforcement of guidelines as it relates to COVID-19,’’ he said.
The coordinator assured of continuous support for the corps, saying “ we will continue to work with you and support you.
“This is just a set of PPE if the pandemic continues; we will make arrangements to make sure that you have the larger quantity,’’ he said.
He, however, commiserated with the management of the corps over those that lost their lives in the cause of enforcing COVID-19 guidelines and also those who were injured in the line of duty.