The shortage of ventilators in Nigerian hospitals would get a huge boost if members of the nation's House of Representatives donate their March salaries to procure the equipment as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic, a lawmaker said on Thursday.
COVID-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus, affects the respiratory system, hence the number of hospitalised patients that would need breathing assistance is likely to also increase if the ailment spikes in Nigeria.
A ventilator, a machine that pumps air in and out of the lungs, therefore, is needed to assist such patients breathe.
Officials have already admitted that there are inadequate medical equipment in hospitals, and this has been validated by an investigation by this newspaper.
Also, Nigeria reportedly has about 300 ventilators, inadequate when compared to other countries with large populations as Nigeria's.
The inadequacy in the number of ventilators has heightened concerns that an overwhelming increase in recorded cases of COVID-19 could be fatal.
Mansur Soro (APC, Bauchi), suggested in his statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES that himself and the other 359 members of the House can fill this gap.
"Sacrifice epitomises leadership. I wish to humbly call on my honourable colleagues, the members of the House of Representatives," he wrote in the statement. "Let's sacrifice our March 2020 salaries and allowances to contribute N1 million each to procure ventilators."
According to the October edition of Legislative Digest, a periodical publication of the National Assembly, apart from car loans, furniture and severance gratuity, all of which are paid every four years, a member of the House earns N17 million per annum.
This consists of N9 million in basic salary and N8 million in allowances. This is roughly N1.4 million per month.
Mr Soro, who represents Darazo/Ganjuwa federal constituency, said donating ₦1 million by each member would help Nigeria's "healthcare facilities (which is) short of global minimum standards. Time is running out for Nigerian to fix the country's healthcare delivery system."
Said to cost between $25,000 and $50,000 (which, at N360 to a dollar, is N9 to N18 million), the cheapest ventilator could cost N9 million, if the global gloom has not affected its production and pricing.
This means, if all of the 360 members of the House donate N1 million each (N360 million in total), Nigeria would be able to purchase 40 ventilators.
Mr Soro also said "the ventilators, when procured, can be distributed to public hospitals in the 36 states and FCT."
"I believe, in addition to our legitimate duties of legislation, representation and oversight, we can make sacrifices to save the lives of the people we represent," he added.