The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the federal government has approved the building of one new oxygen plant in every state in the country including the FCT.
He explained that Lagos State will have two making the number 38, while 30 existing oxygen plants will be rehabilitated by the government and another 12 through Global Fund, making the total number of oxygen plants in the country 80, thereby ensuring oxygen sufficiency in the country.
The minister disclosed this last weekend when the new Executive members of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) visited him in his office.
According to the minister, government is aware of infrastructural and equipment decay in some health institutions and was planning for full scale rehabilitation before the upsurge of COVID-19 pandemic.
He urged the association to be patient for government to recover from unexpected expenditure from COVID-19, pointing out that as far as COVID-19 is concerned, Nigeria is not yet out of the woods, and there is no reason for over confidence or celebration.
"We are not yet accepting congratulations until we know where we are", he stated.
He appealed to the nurses and midwives to help government to emphasise on compliance to COVID-19 protocols.
Ehanire said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the year 2020 as the Year of Nurses based on the relentless services nurses render to the hospitals in the whole world.
He also said that 2021 has been designated by WHO as "International Year of Healthcare Workers" to appreciate the significant roles of Nurses and Midwives to mankind.
Ehanire said "it is very clear that what define the quality and competence of good hospitals in the whole world is the quality of services nurses render to their patients.
He said that nursing and midwifery profession is an extremely important part of the health care service.
The minister commended all the health workers for the services they rendered especially since the outbreak of COVID-19.
He used the opportunity to commensurate with some of them who lost their lives and those afflicted with one type of infectious disease or the other, while delivering services to the nation and mankind.
A statement by the Head of the Publicity Unit of the Ministry, Nwokike Brendan said the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Abdulazizi Mashi Abdullahi, also said that government is aware of shortage of nurses and midwives in some hospital and lifted ban on employment to the health sector.
He added that right now, some health institutions are engaging in recruitment drive to fill the gaps in their respective organisations.
Abdullahi asked the association to forward the approved new Unified Scheme of Service for Nurses and Midwives issued by the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, so that he would take it up.
He therefore advised the association to list all the conflicting issues and address it properly to the ministry for careful handling and resolution.
Earlier, the National President, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Mr. Michael Nkuma Nnachi appreciated the minister and other stakeholders on the way and manner the COVID-19 pandemic is being handled.
He told the minister that the purpose of their visit was to present their new executive members and to make their requests/demands to the ministry for consideration.
The National Council on Establishment (NCE) approved a new Scheme of Service for Nurses and Midwives in the year 2016 which the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation had since issued circular to the ministry and up till today, the details of the scheme has not yet been gazetted.
"The association is appealing to the ministry to use its power to see that the scheme of service is gazetted by the Head of Service of the Federation."
Continuing, the president noted that there are lots of infrastructural/equipment decay in many hospitals across the country.
"The association is therefore pleading to the ministry to embark on infrastructure and equipment audit of our health institutions with a view to address them for efficient and sustainable health care delivery in the country."
Mr. Nnachi disclosed that trained murses and midwives are denied practice in some institutions, such as the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, School of Anesthesiology which is a West African Health Institution, responsible for training of nurses anesthetics and equally registered by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (N&MCN), the management of UNTH Enugu has refused these cadre of nurses to do their work in the theatre without any justifiable reasons.
NANNM President further complained about non-payment of teaching allowance, non-implementation of 30 per cent increase on shift duty allowance and with held salaries of health workers including nurses and midwives for two months, April and May, 2018.
The association expressed the optimism that the ministry will critically look into these anomalies for possible resolution.