Bayelsa State Government has assured that it would localize the employment of primary healthcare workers as part of measures to address challenges bedevilling the sector.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the assurance on Thursday, September 15, at a one-day workshop on the Status of Primary Healthcare Services in the state, organized by the state government, at the Harold Dappa Biriye Conference Centre in Yenagoa.
Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, emphasized that government would first consider those who have been working as volunteer primary healthcare providers and are resident in the various communities in the employment exercise that is about to kick off.
The Deputy Governor, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Doubara Atasi, expressed optimism that the measure would help to check absenteeism as well as improve service delivery in the health sector.
He stressed that the era of attaching sentiments to official duties were over, noting that primary healthcare workers who are in the habit of absenting themselves from duty would be decisively dealt with.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, therefore directed all heads of department in the state primary healthcare board to be alive to their responsibilities and be effective in addressing truancy by staff of their respective health centers.
His words: “We are going to do a review of what you have done. We are going to be strict, both the mobilizers and the health workers must come from their own communities and must be resident in those communities, otherwise we would be repeating ourselves in a circle of collusion.
“More than 80% of our health workers are here in Yenagoa, the state capital, therefore, henceforth, we are going to localize this employment. If we must employ nurses and pharmacists, they must be resident in that community, the first criterion is, where is your residence?
“The VDC and WDC must recommend you that you are based here before we will engage you because if that is done, then nobody will be able to kidnap you and that is the way to go.
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“I also believe that our health workers need to change and when it comes to political interference, count me out. Go ask what I did to my own cousin.
“Recently, I directed that the salary of one of my cousins be suspended for three months alongside those who are working in the health center in my community, Ofoni. Look, leadership that is set on sentiment and emotions is not leadership.
“So I am advising everybody; HODs take responsibility. This idea of buck passing and ineffective leadership is unacceptable. We must take liabilities and not only the assets.”
According to Senator Ewhrudjakpo, the workshop was organized to encourage community ownership of healthcare facilities domiciled in their areas as well as charge the State Local Government Service Commission and the Primary Healthcare Board to perform their supervisory roles more effectively.
He noted that although funding was solely the responsibility of the local government system, the state government would continue to play its role of resource mobilization and supervision to ensure the realization of set objectives in healthcare delivery.
In his welcome address, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Pabara Newton Igwele, thanked the Bayelsa State Government for organizing the workshop to tackle the multifaceted challenges in the health sector, which he says is critical.
He called on all stakeholders to make useful contributions that would guide government to draw an effective, needs-driven policy framework to reposition primary healthcare service delivery.
The highpoint of the workshop was the presentation of the status of human resources for health in the various LGAs by key resource persons in the Bayelsa State Taskforce on Immunization.
In attendance were a wide range of stakeholders including members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and the State Executive Council, Heads of Local Government Areas, traditional rulers, directors of the state Hospital Management Board and representatives of associations from government and private medical associations of Nigeria.