Sterling Bank has pledged more commitment in its interventions in Nigeria’s health sector.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the bank, Mr Abubakar Suleiman made the pledge in a brief remark at a dinner on Saturday night in Lagos.
The dinner was to appreciate Sterling One Foundation Health Workers Board and Partners, who raised funds to assist health workers at the onset of the COVID -19 pandemic.
It was reported that the foundation, through its crowd funding platform, giving.ng, raised about N55 million to pay the hazard allowances of about 154 health workers who were frontline workers nationwide.
Through the fund, the foundation was able to raise the hazard allowance of the workers from a paltry N5, 000 monthly to N100, 000 for three months.
Suleiman noted that health care facilities in Nigeria were far from being what they should.
He said the plight of the workers, especially during the pandemic, drove the bank, in partnership with the Sterling One Foundation, to get partners to address their condition.
”We are here to appreciate people who said yes to service without compensation.
”It is about the people that gave trust to the fund. The team that delivered this intervention need to be a team.
“I want to ask that the people that made this possible to please remain our partners because we will like to commit more to the health sector,” Suleiman said.
The CEO of Sterling One Foundation, Mrs Olapeju Ibekwe, said the event was organised to celebrate and appreciate the board and partners of the health workers fund.
She said that they stood up at the beginning of the pandemic to support health workers at the centre of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We realised that a lot of attention was given to infrastructure, building, PPEs. All these are useless if there are no humans to man them.
“As at that time, workers were paid N5, 000 hazard allowance and we are aware that the government cannot do everything alone.
”We took it upon ourselves that the human beings are critical, that is why we chose to support them, because we know that life is not replaceable,” Ibekwe said.
She said that Sterling bank seeded the fund with N25 million.
The CEO expressed gratitude to every Nigerian who contributed to the fund and the health workers who dared the pandemic to save the lives of many.
Also, Mr Obinna Ukachukwu, Divisional Head, Health and Education, Sterling Bank, shed light on why the bank took the initiative.
He said it was because the government earlier focused on taking care of the treatment costs of patients without much focus on the health workers.
Ukachukwu said that the bank was satisfied with the interventions in the health sector but more could still be done.
He said this was because the pandemic opened the nation’s eyes to a health emergency in the sector.
The Chairman of the Board, Dr Olalokun Soyinka, expressed gratitude to the foundation for giving him and his team, the opportunity to serve.
Soyinka said the core of any health system was its health workers.
“I believe that the most important thing in any health facility is the health workers.
“When the pandemic hit us, it was clear that the people going to save us were the workers, not the masks,” he said.
Soyinka canvassed for more training for health care workers, especially in the area of telemedicine.
It was reported that members of the board comprise people across regional lines.
Some of the partners in the project include Pulse.ng, Ventures Africa, Today’s Woman, Proshare, Trace TV and Netcore Solutions Hygeia HMO among others.
Highlights of the event was the presentation of gifts to the members of the health board and partners by Sterling Bank.