By Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
No fewer than 30 medical doctors have left Kogi State civil service as a result of non-payment of salary and poor enumeration, Kogi State Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Kabiru Zubair has said.
He stated this yesterday at a meeting with the new NMA executives held with the management of Kogi Ministry of Health in Lokoja.
“Among the newly employed doctors, 13 have remained unpaid till date since their resumption in August, 2017,” he added.
He noted that the Kogi Government should give utmost priority to the welfare of health workers to prevent the current mass exodus of doctors from the state’s civil service.
According to him, in the last nine months, over 30 doctors had left the state civil service and more were threatening to leave as soon as they had 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 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.
He, 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, and non-payment of gratuity and pensions to some doctors who retired recently from Kogi civil service.
Zubair also called for infrastructural improvement on the healthcare facilities across the state to ensure the delivery of quality healthcare to the people of Kogi.
NMA, however, commended the state government’s efforts at 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.
“His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello, and the Ministry of Health under the able leadership of Dr. Saka Audu, has performed well considering the prevailing circumstances.
“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. 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 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 was working tirelessly to ensure that all issues regarding health workers’ welfare are resolved soon.
He added that all entitlement of doctors would be paid as soon as the economy was buoyant, saying that the issue of CONMESS would be implemented after salaries were cleared.