Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Ekiti State Government, has urged the striking Doctors in the state, under the aegis of National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP) to discontinue the industrial action embarked upon by its members as strike enters fourth week.
The government refuted the allegation raised by the body that Ekiti’s three specialist and 19 general hospitals as well as the primary health centres were experiencing shortage of medical doctors, saying the state has over 300 doctors on its payroll, contrary to the frightening situation painted by the striking doctors.
The NAGGMDP, had at a press conference addressed by its State Chairman, Dr Femi Adeniyi, last Friday, accused Governor Kayode Fayemi of paying lip service to the payment of hazard, insurance, rural and other allowances, thereby crippling the health sector with attendant brain drain caused by mass exodus of doctors out of Ekiti.
In a statement in Ado-Ekiti on Thursday, the Commissioner for Information, Aare Muyiwa Olumilua said : “There are over 300 doctors in the service of Ekiti State Government and more than 700 doctors cumulatively in the state.
“Once again, Government appeals to the striking doctors under the aegis of NAGGMDP to reconsider their position and return to their duty posts immediately. Continuing with this ill-timed strike action will only put the lives of Ekiti residents at more risk during this COVID-19.
“It is widely acknowledged that most developing nations and sub- nationals are experiencing the shortage of doctors in the health sector, including Ekiti State. It is, however, important to clarify that there are adequate doctors in both public and private sectors in Ekiti State to meet the healthcare needs of its residents.
“It is unfortunate that despite the numerous efforts of the State Government to support the Health Sector, especially during this pandemic and its attendant economic effects, the members of this Association have insisted on the strike action.”
Olumilua who highlighted government efforts in tackling the issue added: “NAGGMDP leadership and that of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) were invited to more than seven meetings between June 11th and July 8th, 2020, for constructive engagement. Government empathised with the association but explained that the State could not meet all their demands due to the global pandemic and dwindling monthly federal allocation and low IGR.
“While most of the association’s demands were not peculiar to them alone, they emphasised the implementation of the “skipping” in their salary scale; that means Medical Officers will commence their career in the civil service on GL 13 instead of the current GL 12 while Consultants will be
appointed on GL 16 instead of the current GL 15, as approved by the
National Council on Establishments (NCE).”
Olumilua promised that the government had decided to meet all the demands of the doctors instalmentally, insisting that these would be done in such a way that other sectors won’t be neglected
“Formal and informal steps have been taken to appeal to the striking doctors, but the doctors have remained adamant. It is necessary to note that all the other unions in the Health Sector who are similarly affected by some of the same requests, met with Government and after reviewing the state finances, were considerate and humane enough to call off their strike action and are now at their duty posts, providing lifesaving services to Ekiti people.
“The timing of this strike action, in the middle of a global public health
crisis when the citizens need their services the most, borders on
insensitivity. Government calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to appeal to the striking doctors not to allow themselves to be pawns in the hands of political detractors.”
Olumilua said government is carrying out a lot of interventions in the health sector, including ; renovation of 15 Primary and Secondary Health facilities, seeking Healthcare Support Fund from CBN to equip more health facilities, approval for the payment of the monthly hazard allowance, and launching of health Insurance Scheme to provide adequate cover for doctors in the state.