The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has urged Kogi government to give utmost priority to the welfare of health workers to prevent mass exodus of doctors from the state’s civil service.
Dr Kabiru Zubair, the state Chairman of the association, made the call on Friday at a meeting the new NMA officials held with the management of Kogi Ministry of Health in Lokoja.
According to Zubair, in the last nine months, over 30 doctors have left the state civil service and more are threatening to leave as soon as they have better opportunities elsewhere.
“It is no longer news, that there is ongoing mass exodus of doctors from Kogi to other states and federal health institutions.
“The worst hits 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 to 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, and mentioned non-payment of gratuity and pensions to some doctors who retired recently from Kogi civil service.
“Also, 13 doctors among the newly employed ones have remained unpaid till date since their resumption in August 2017,” he added.
Zubair also called for infrastructure improvement on the healthcare facilities across the state to ensure the delivery of quality healthcare to the people of Kogi.
NMA, however, applauded the governor’s efforts at improving healthcare delivery with various laudable programmes, employment of new doctors, healthcare workers and renovation of healthcare facilities across the state, among others.
“Gov. Yahaya Bello, and the Ministry of Health under the leadership of Dr Saka Audu, have performed well considering the prevailing circumstances,” Zubair said
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Health, Dr thanked the NMA for the maiden meeting, saying the New Direction Government had made the health sector one of its five key thematic areas.
Audu said that the state government had improved the well-being of citizens through various healthcare intervention programmes in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, as confirmed by NMA.
He appealed to NMA to exercise more patience, saying the government was working tirelessly to ensure that all issues regarding health workers’ welfare were resolved soon.
The commissioner added that all entitlement of doctors would be paid as soon as the economy became buoyant, saying that the issue of CONMESS would be implemented after salaries were cleared.