Physicians to receive honorarium, life insurance for COVID-19 response

Physicians to receive honorarium, life insurance for COVID-19 response
Obie Ferguson, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) president

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Following outcry from the Trade Union Congress over the working condition of health care workers on the frontline of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Ministry of Health has confirmed its commitment for a $5,000 honorarium and $100,000 life insurance policy.

TUC President Obie Ferguson, who represents junior doctors and nurses union, has claimed that health workers  have been challenge with access to PPE equipment, do not have adequate healthcare insurance, have been forced to work “unfair” schedules, and has not been including in the decision making process.

Ferguson has called for an immediate meeting with the prime minister to address these and other concerns.

However, in a statement today, the ministry insisted that those concerns are being addressed.

“Despite expected economic fall-out of the mandatory lockdowns, the government has already committed to providing physicians with a $5,000 honorarium for those who work on the frontline of the health sector’s response,” the statement read.

“The government has also offered the provision of a life insurance benefit of $100,000 should a health care worker contract the COVID-19 virus and experience an untimely death.

“The COVID-19 response needs the cooperation of all governmental, non-governmental and private sector agencies and civil society.”

The ministry assured that it stands ready to meet and dialogue with any civic group, union or interested parties that wishes to pose recommendations to collaboratively fight and eliminate COVID-19 from The Bahamas.

The statement also pointed to the ministry’s efforts to manage the spread of the virus.

These include the alliance with the Princess Margaret Hospital and Doctors Hospital to accept COVID-19 patients for treatment and the dedication of the South Beach Health Clinic to accept mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 patients.

The ministry also joined the clarion call and national appeal to all available healthcare personnel to assist to lighten the load of those already positioned on the frontline in this fight.

“All physicians are encouraged to advise when they will make their services available to support the country’s fight against COVID-19,” the statement said.

“To facilitate this request, the general public is to be assured that all health care workers will be provided with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to handle patients who are confirmed or suspected to be infected by COVID-19.”

Officials say  additional PPE supplies have already been order, as supply levels are constantly being maintained and rates of usage of PPEs are being carefully monitored.