By Bridget Ikyado
The Benue chapter of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called on the state government to review the salary and allowances of medical and other health workers in the state.
The state NMA Chairman, Dr Ushakuma Anenga, made the call on Wednesday in Makurdi at the opening of the association’s scientific conference.
The conference was part of activities to mark the 2022 Physicians’ Week, which has the theme: `Nigeria’s Health Care Delivery System and the 2023 Democratic Transition: A Time to Change the Narrative.’
Dr Usha Anenga, NMA Chairman Benue Chapter
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NMA Physicians’ Week is marked annually to celebrate the works of medical doctors.
Anenga said in spite of efforts of the Benue government in revamping the health sector, medical and health personnel are still not getting their dues.
The NMA chairman, therefore, said the government should approve hazard allowance for doctors and protect them from kidnappers.
“The Nigerian doctor is poorly paid, over worked, lacks necessary work tools and are a target of kidnap.
“State employed doctors are owed salaries and not paid as at when due; there is also manpower shortage.
“The full implementation of the minimum wage and more finances and equipment are needed, as well as improved infrastructure,” he added.
He said the situation had led to brain drain as medical doctors move to greener pastures.
“In Benue we have more patients waiting to see a few doctors, more time spent in waiting, surgeries suspended,” he said.
Anenga, however, said in spite of the challenges, the prevalence of HIV has dropped in the state while Benue was the best in vaccine coverage in North Central.
“Residency training funds for aiding doctors’ exams fees are paid, the Benue state government was the first to domesticate and implement it fully.
“We have ongoing renovations at many general hospitals, the Benue University Teaching Hospital and primary health centres are underway.
According to him, there is significant infrastructure development, especially in the area of primary health care in the state.
The NMA chairman advised members of the union to join politics to push for the prioritisation of the health sector by government.
Benue NMA Chairman, Dr Ushakuma Anenga and Octogenarian Prof. Shima Gyoh at the Physician’s Week in Makurdi
In his remarks, Benue Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Joseph Ngbea said medical doctors should join politics so as to shape decisions that affect their profession.
The commissioner pledged that the government would look into issues affecting health workers as it strived to upgrade health facilities in the state.
The Guest Speaker, Prof Shima Gyoh, who has been in the medical field for 62 years, called on government to end the gross underfunding of the health sector.
“The infrastructure of health institutions and the condition of service of health workers must be improved.
“There is too much of the military attitude and language in dealing with health and other workers.
“Greater investment in health would have to be done at the same time with strict budgetary discipline to ensure that the funds are applied towards the goals for which they were voted.
“The Nigeria Medical Association must bring harmony to the health team and determine how best to nudge the government to live up to its obligations,” Gyoh said.
The retired surgeon and Professor of Surgery, called for strict regulation of traditional medical practitioners to save the public from exploitation.
Also, Dr Hameed Mohammed, an Associate Professor and Consultant Radiologist, Benue University Teaching Hospital, spoke on “Mitigating the Impact of Brain Drain on the dwindling human resources for health in Nigeria”.
According to him, in spite of the negative effect of brain drain on the nation’s health system, there are some advantages to it.
“Though it is a tragedy, there are some advantages like exposure, knowledge acquisition, remittance flow and other benefits in source countries for both returnees and the diasporas.
“Those who have left have justifiable reasons for leaving and those who have chosen to stay should be saluted for their courage and for not giving up on their country.
“The loss in monetary value can be compensated for in social capital,” he added.
Another paper on health sector reforms in the face of emerging health threats was presented by Prof. Audu Onyemocho, a Professor of Community Health, Federal University of Health Sciences Otukpo.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the week-long event began with media engagements and will be rounded off with visits to orphanages, a novelty football match and breast cancer awareness walk. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Maharazu Ahmed