By Ameer Ibro, Lokoja
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), on Thursday raises alarm that doctors in Kogi State Civil Service, are providing healthcare services on empty stomach which it said has resulted in serious brain drain in the state health sector.
Dr Kabiru Zubair, the State Chairman of the association, said this at a world news conference in Lokoja, to mark the 2018 NMA’s Physicians’ Week, themed: “Universal Health Coverage: Leaving No One Behind.”
According to Zubair, the welfare of our members in the last one year has nose-dived, due to poor remuneration, poor working conditions, and lack of healthcare infrastructure, loss of purchasing power of the naira has resulted into mass migration of doctors to greener pastures and the resultant brain drain in Nigeria Health Sector.
“The situation of doctors are very pathetic in Kogi Civil Service, starting from underpayment, irregular payment to outright non-payment of salaries for over five months consecutively and counting.
“Yet, our doctors and other healthcare workers kept on providing healthcare services on empty stomach at great risk to our families and professional calling.
“Currently, there is apathy and despondence in the health work force in the state,’’ he said.
Zubair said that doctors who were at the forefront of the struggle for better welfare for health workers had lost the zeal to fight-on, saying the only available option left was to leave the state civil service.
“As at today, a total of 79 doctors have left Kogi Civil Service.
“In the last nine months alone, 27 doctors have resigned from the Kogi State Specialist Hospital (KSSH), Lokoja, including two consultants.
“Forty four (44) have resigned from the State Hospitals Management Board (HMB) and eight from the Kogi State University Teaching Hospital, Anyigba.
“More doctors are just waiting for the next available opportunity to leave. The consequences are worsening healthcare indices in the state.
“The vacuum created will ultimately be filled by medical quacks to the detriment of our people and no level of policing can stop it,’’ the chairman said.
He said that the Kogi NMA had threatened and embarked on several industrial actions in the last one year just to mitigate against this ugly development.
“Even though, NMA has dropped the idea of plunging Kogi health sector into another round of industrial action.
“NMA is not happy that government has not reciprocated the gesture by ensuring regular payment of doctors and other healthcare workers’ salaries in the state.
“We call on the state government to prioritise the salary payment of healthcare workers to abate the current low morale and untold hardship in the health work force,’’ Zubair said.
He warned that Kogi NMA would not hesitate to ask her members and their stakeholders in 2019 general election, to campaign against any government or individuals that refuse to genuinely prioritise healthcare delivery.
The chairman therefore urged the government to implement the Universal Healthcare Coverage and ensuring the regular payment of the salaries of doctors and other healthcare workers.
The chairman said that the Physicians Week was dedicated to celebrate doctors for their selfless service to humanity as well as appraise their situation in the previous year.