The Ondo State chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has called on the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu to pay the salary arrears of its members.
This is just as the association decried the mass exodus of doctors in the state over irregular payment of salary and conditions of service for health workers in the state.
The Chairman of Ondo NMA, Dr Stella Adegbehingbe who spoke at the commissioning of a medical clinic, built by the association, located at Ilekun Housing Estate, Oda Road Akure, the state capital, cited irregular payment of the salaries of medical doctors as the reason for the poor state of the health sector in the state.
The NMA Chairman said: “Our welfare has been very challenging because as we speak now, the last salary we collected was in March 2022. The 2021 one month backlog of salary is still there. So, this has caused a lot of hardship for our members and it has caused lots of them to leave the state.
“It is even affecting employment in the state. When you want to employ somebody and he asked, how is the salary? And he hears that the last salary that was paid was in March and we are in July, such person will be discouraged.
“This has been impacting negatively on our health sector. The health sector in Ondo State is going down rapidly. There has been shortage of manpower because of this issue of salary”, Stella lamented.
She appealed to the state government to prioritize the welfarism of health workers in the state to avoid exodus of health workers.
While speaking on the project, she said the clinic was part of its Corporate Social Responsibility and part of its efforts to contribute its quota to the development of the state.
“We found out that there was no clinic in this community which is far from the main town. The foundation laying was done 11 years ago by the then executives and subsequent executives contributed their quota. We have been doing it with our money.
“So, when we came on board, we felt the clinic was in advance stage, despite irregularities in our salary, let us try and complete the project because here is far from the main town and the road is bad. No doubt, this project will go a long way in helping the people of the community.
“We are going to start with outpatients. It is easier to manage, we can easily treat them and write their medications”, Dr Stella stressed.
The State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), explained that government cannot do it alone, soliciting the cooperation of doctors and other health workers in the state, adding they could not afford to fail in the expectation of quality service delivery.
Akeredolu, represented by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Banji Awolowo Ajaka said: “The state government is doing everything possible to ensure that welfare of healthcare workers are taking care of”.
He called on doctors in the state to assist the present administration in achieving laudable programmes, as the government could not do it alone.
While speaking on the shortage of manpower across hospitals in the state, Akeredolu said, “we don’t just want to employ, we want to have our data to know how many doctors we have, what is the optimal level of manning, we want to redistribute our personnel, not just saying we don’t have enough personnel in Okitipupa while we have many in Ikare”.
He noted that the implementation of the Ondo State Contributory Health Scheme will ensure unfettered access to qualitative healthcare at affordable costs in the state.
Governor Akeredolu pointed that the commencement of the health scheme would move the state in the direction of universal health coverage for its citizens.