Since the discovery of the index case of COVID-19 virus in February 27, 2020 in Nigeria, the number of confirmed cases has continued to rise to a record figure of over 64,000 while fatalities have gone up to more than 1,154. With more than 80% of Nigeria’s economic activities hinged on road transport with people and goods needing to move from point A to B for daily lives , many drivers commute without applying safety protocols, contributing to further spread of the COVID-19 virus. Those affected are motorists who are responsible for truck and ambulance operations in Nigeria.
Truck and ambulance drivers who are responsible for the transportation of medical supplies, patients, and logistics needed for COVID-19 management in Nigeria are ill-trained and equipped. They lack personal protective equipment (PPE) and training. Between May and June of 2020, a video of an ambulance team who tried to transport a COVID-19 patient went viral over the Internet because of the way the team handled the patient without consideration for their personal safety. Incidents like this occur daily and reflect the reality on the ground in so many places within Nigeria. Similarly, many of these drivers operate without knowledge of road safety, which results in injuries, loss of lives, and damage to medical and logistics equipment needed for a functional health supply chain. These negative consequences worsen already-existing health commodity transportation and logistics challenges, such as an discredited workforce; lack of occupational safety practices; and a dangerous working environment.
It is for this reason that GreenLight Initiative, with support from People that Deliver, has partnered with health and road management organizations in Nigeria to develop and implement a COVID-19 response safety training which is aimed at empowering these drivers with safety knowledge. The Ambulance Service Division of the Federal Ministry Health and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) is partnering with GreenLight Initiative to implement the training in six geopolitical regions of Nigeria. The opening ceremony took place on 10 November 2020 in Abuja during the commemoration of the 2020 World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims while other training will take place in Gombe State, Kano State, Lagos State, Anambra State, and Rivers State respectively.
The training is tagged: “Safety Training for Truck and Ambulance Drivers during COVID-19” and will take place over a six-month period in the six locations. The training will involve provision of safety training for 360 truck and ambulance drivers who are responsible for the movement of hospital supplies and COVID-19 logistics across Nigeria. The training modules are designed to empower these drivers and assistants with COVID-19 safety protocols; basic infection prevention control; basic first aid, appropriate and rational use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and education on road safety measures.
The training will enable these drivers to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19, enforce and advocate for COVID-19 safety protocols as they deliver on their jobs; and ensure that COVID-19 supplies and equipment are delivered to hospitals in a safe and timely manner.
GreenLight Initiative is a nonprofit that works to improve road transportation safety and sustainable development through training, awareness creation, public enlightenment, and the implementation of evidence-backed interventions. This training program was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the FIA Foundation through the People that Deliver Grand Challenge for Last Mile Health Supply Chain COVID-19 Support.
Simon Patrick Obi, Executive Director, GreenLight Initiative