Following the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in Nigeria, many banks have introduced new measures to curtail the spread of dreaded disease.
Investigation revealed that among the new preventive measures introduced by some of the Nigerian banks are self-dispensing hand sanitisers, and body temperature scanners at all their branches in the country.
Checks also revealed that some of the banks have introduced protective gears for members of its staffs especially those who deal directly with customers.
According to a notice to customers released by WEMA on Monday, 25 August, 2015, the bank said henceforth all customers and visitors to any branch of the bank would be required to use the hand sanitisers and be scanned for symptoms of fever before being admitted into their banking halls.
“In the wake of the recent Ebola Virus Disease outbreak across West Africa, we are compelled to introduce the following preventive health and safety initiatives at all our business locations in order to ensure a safe banking environment for all customers and staff,” the bank stated.
All customers and visitors are required to use the hand sanitisers and also undergo a quick non-invasive body temperature scan before being allowed into our banking halls and business locations.
“In addition, some of our staff at the more sensitive desks will also be required to wear some protective gears while interacting with customers and other visitors during this period” the statement read.
However, Premium Times reports that the bank did not say if provisions will be made for customers who are denied access due to their body temperature or other health concerns.
A visit to some branches of Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, also showed that the bank has started implementing new safety measure aimed at curtailing the spread of the Ebola virus.
At the GTB branch on Allen Avenue in Ikeja, Lagos State, customers were scanned for their body temperatures before being allowed into the banking halls by security guards.
Some of the bank workers at the branch were also seen wearing hand gloves and mouth coverings at the teller points.
However, the federal Ministry of Health said it was not informed of the move, considered by some as discriminatory.
A health campaign organization, Projekthope, said the new policy is discriminatory.
“We should all learn to do things right. The presence of Ebola symptoms does not necessarily mean transmission will take place,” said Steve Aborisade, who heads Ibadan-based Projekthope. “And even if we want to be hyper proactive it should be sensitive in ways that will not be discriminatory and which actually stops transmission which is our first purpose.”
However, a medical expert said the bank should go beyond screening and make adequate referral arrangements for customers who may be turned away due to their health.
“I don’t think we should see it in the light of a discriminatory policy, I think they are just trying to act on the side of caution,” said Osahon Enabulele, the immediate past president of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA.
“The end point should be to aid the referral of such an individual to the nearest health facility for appropriate treatment. And of course, I expect that they should have a medical unit in the bank to quickly evaluate clients that may have suspicious features to properly evaluate them and not just to turn them away.