COVID-19: Health Workers Narrate Ordeals In Kano Communities

A RECENT record obtained from Kano State Primary Healthcare Management Board (KSPHCMB) revealed that Kano state received the highest allocation of Covid-19 vaccines totaling 209,520 covid19. Out of this allocation, Gwale was 1,046,038, and Kumbotso got 1,341,852.

These vaccines were administered to residents of the communities in the 86 vaccination centers across Gwale and Kumbotso Local Government Areas (LGAs), however, the health workers that were directly involved in the vaccine administration met some challenges.

This investigation is focused on the challenges of incentives and motivation packages to the frontline health workers involved in the Covid-19 vaccine administration in the two LGAs because they recorded the highest number of reported Covid-19 cases among the 9 LGAs in the state metropolis.

This reporter visited the Sheka Primary Healthcare facility in Kumbotso LGA and noticed that the health workers were not motivated and were not provided with adequate incentives to perform their tasks efficiently and effectively due to the persistent delay or non-payment of health workers’ covid-19 allowances.

In an interview with some health workers at the facility, they complained of the delay in payment or not being fully paid for their covid-19 work allowance, some said they have not been paid in the last 3 to 5 months.

Others health workers in the facility said when they receive the alert, the money is not enough or sufficient to cover their demands like feeding at work a week talking more transporting themselves to work, and taking them home at the end of the month.

Hauwa Dahiru, a vaccinator at one of the Primary Healthcare facilities said the daily fee as stated during her training days was N25,000.00 daily excluding weekends but she has not received any payment in the last three months, that is as of the time of this investigation.

“I saw a credit of N2, 000.00 only, the source of the alert revealed that the money was sent by the World Health Organization (WHO) for Data subscriptions.”

The money alert did not tally with my work specification as a vaccinator. Only validators were supposed to be paid money for data,” she added

Investigation to correlate their claims by this reporter revealed that other health workers (those who conducted the vaccination exercise like the Recorder, Validator, and vaccinators) received payment alerts of N12,900.00, instead of N25,000.00 and when they made inquiries, they were told that the money is for transportation.

An undercover investigation at the KSPHCMB revealed that when the health workers were trained as covid- 19 vaccine frontline workers, none of them was told of the specific amount and time for which they will be paid.

Confirming the investigation, one health worker who wished to remain anonymous said: “about 200 health workers who were selected to join the task in Kumbotso, were told that they will be paid N3, 000.00 (Three Thousand Naira daily) from WHO but nothing was said about payments from the state government.

Interacting with the health workers at different facilities, they complained about almost everything.

One of the challenging issues the health workers complained about is their low morale due to insufficient Person Protective Equipment (PPE).

The investigation by this reporter discovered that PPE like facemasks, hand gloves, and boots was not sufficient at a health facility in Sheka. all efforts to get an official inventory of the PPE in some facilities failed.

But a health worker lamented that “After the facemask is finished, we have to buy facemask for ourselves for our safety; I normally use 1 facemask for two days or more, especially if it is not dirty physically.

“We don’t use cloves because even at the PHC, not all health workers used them.”

The shocking issue this investigation came across is the taking of kickbacks or bribes by health workers to issue Covid-19 vaccination certificates without administering the shots.

For example, health workers at a health facility in Mariri, Kumbotso LGA who preferred not to be mentioned in this report agree that some of the health workers engage themselves in giving out the Covid-19 vaccine card to people at a fixed price.

She said: “We sell the certificate at the sum of N5,000.00 and make all necessary documentation for it, the vaccines are thrown away.

“This is to enable them to cover some of their expenses during their workdays as many of them have not received their monthly allowances for months,” he declared.

Checking out the claims of insufficient PPE, this reporter had a chat with the focal person at Dan Maliki ward, Mal Balarabe M Tsohon, he said Kumbotso Health workers are among the Covid-19 task force team that lacked PPEs.

He added: “They need supportive intervention for mobility as many of them don’t receive their payment allowances at the approximate time, and many of the health workers encounter natural harassment by the public on covid19 vaccine after they received the first dose.”

A reality check with the Senior Special Adviser (SSA) Health to the Executive Chairman of Kumbotso LGA, Mal. Da’u Sule confirmed that he received some complaints from the health workers claiming that they often have delays in their payments and that when the payments were done, they are not fully paid.

He said: “Majority of them work for 3 to 5 months but when they receive the alert is not up to a month or insufficient to cover their work demands. On the other hand, when they were trained as Covid-19 frontline workers there was no specific amount and time for which they will be paid.”

But he disclosed that Kano State Government is working on a recovery plan to motivate health workers for their efforts, adding that almost 200 Health workers were selected to join the task in Kumbotso and they will be paid N3,000.00 daily; a WHO support.

In Gwale local Government area, Jaen primary health care, this reporter had a chat with a resident, Sale Nuhu who came to the facility for vaccination; he disclosed that only one health worker is in charge of vaccination and recording data.

In an undercover chat with a female health worker, she said: “Some of the focal persons have personal relationships with some of the health workers; they change names including account details to favor their own people, which makes us be idle, although we don’t know where to table our complaints.”

“Many vaccinated cards were sold from this PHC and others, I happen to be one of those sellers, that is why I don’t care to know when they will pay us.”

A level 3 student of Bayero University Kano, Abdulmajid Isa disclosed to this reporter that some of his friends in the community got the Covid-19 vaccine certificates without being vaccinated.

Isa said he also tried to get one for himself but could not because of some strict policy at the health center. when he visited.

However, the supervisory Health Counselor at Gwale LGA, Hajiya Aisha Haruna Kabuga said there have been complaints that some health workers at the centers gave vaccination certificates to people who were not vaccinated.

“We working to trace and get clear evidence of the issue but none have been reported, that is why we introduced more tactics in ensuring that only those who are vaccinated received the certificates,” she said. This reporter also observed that one of the tactics is a simple vaccination tracking process from the recorder to the vaccinator and the validator.

This report was supported by the CHRICED Project of Strengthening Maternal Healthcare through Accountability Interventions in Kano State.

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