From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The Kogi state health service delivery is currently facing the challenge of mass exit of medical doctors from the state civil service as no fewer than 30 doctors have left the services of government in the last nine months.
The havoc is also deepening as more doctors are threatening to leave as soon as they have better opportunities elsewhere.
The state Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr Kabiru Zubair who expressed worry over the development at a meeting with the new NMA exco and the management of the Kogi state Ministry of Health urged the state government to give utmost priority to the welfare of health workers to prevent the current mass exodus of doctors from the state civil service.
“It is no longer news, that there is ongoing mass exodus of doctors from Kogi to other states and federal health institutions.
“The worst hit are the doctors working with the Kogi State Hospitals Management Board as well as the Kogi Specialist Hospital, Lokoja.
“This is due to the differential and poor remuneration of doctors, which NMA has been at the forefront of the struggle for better welfare for doctors and all healthcare workers in the state.
“Although, some of the issues have been resolved, the Government needs to do more in order to slow down the rate of this mass exodus and to attract more doctors to the state,” Zubair said.
Zubair, therefore, urged government to ensure regularity in salary payment of doctors and other health workers, correction of underpayments, implementation of corrected/adjusted CONMESS, cash backing of promotion and annual step increment.
He stressed that the heavy taxation on doctors’ salaries had further worsened their remuneration, as well as non-payment of gratuity and pensions to some doctors who retired recently from Kogi civil service.
“Among the newly employed doctors, 13 have remained unpaid till date since their resumption in August, 2017,” he added.
Zubair also called for infrastructural improvement on the healthcare facilities across the state to ensure the delivery of quality healthcare to our people of Kogi.
NMA, however, commended the state government’s efforts to improving the healthcare delivery in the state with various laudable programmes, employment of new doctors, healthcare workers and renovation of healthcare facilities across the state, among others.
“NMA is neither an opposition party nor against the interest of government, but a professional group that is helping to shape government policies for quality healthcare delivery to the people.
“The NMA is ready to collaborate with the KSG to bring about better healthcare delivery in the state,” Zubair said.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Saka Audu, thanked the NMA for the meeting, saying the “New Direction Government’’ had made the health sector one of its key five thematic areas.
He said that the state government had improved the well-being of its citizens through various healthcare intervention programmes in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, as confirmed by NMA.
The commissioner appealed to NMA to exercise more patience, saying the government is working tirelessly to ensure that all issues regarding health workers’ welfare are resolved soon.
He added that all entitlements of doctors would be paid as soon as the economy is buoyant, saying that the issue of CONMESS will be implemented after salaries were cleared.