Bayelsa State Government is to employ about one hundred Doctors and other Health practitioners in soon as part of measures to address the manpower deficit in the health care system in the rural areas.
The State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, disclosed this on Wednesday during a courtesy visit by the state chapter of National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMPD) in Government House, Yenagoa.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, in a statement by his media aide, Mr Doubara Atasi, said such Doctors and Health workers would be deployed to Local Government Areas where Health care personnel are overstretched.
He hinted that as a result, a presentation was made last week during the state’s Executive Council meeting on the need to employ more hands, including community health officers, health information managers, laboratory technicians, mobilizers, and birth attendants.
Ewhrudjakpo further stated that the State Government had taken a holistic look at the primary healthcare institutions with a view to strengthening them.
“Once you overwhelm the primary health care system, then the secondary and tertiary health institutions become very vulnerable. So, every effort must be made to strengthen health facilities at the primary level.
“In so doing, we will be able to prevent some of the diseases. I believe in the first two Ps of healthcare delivery: Promotion and Prevention. I don’t believe in creative and rehabilitative medicine because a stitch in time, saves nine.
“I believe that if we prevent diseases and promote good healthcare, there will be no need for people to have surgery or a labour that is obstructed or delayed that requires Caesarian Section because they would have taken all the measures they needed to take.
“To strengthen our healthcare delivery, we are going to employ about a hundred medical doctors in the next couple of months to make sure we have at least one doctor in each political ward.
“We have also recommended that some community health officers, nurses midwives, Health information management officers, mobilizers and those people called traditional birth attendants. But I call them unskilled birth attendants”, he said.
The Deputy Governor also noted that the State Government looked into the hierarchy of health care workers and recommended that unskilled birth attendants be integrated into the health care system to improve healthcare indices of the state, emphasizing that instead of undermining their services, two of such health workers should be attached to each primary health care facility where they will work under the direct supervision of trained medical and health officers to enable them perform their duties efficiently and effectively.
On lack of medical equipment, particularly in health facilities in the rural areas, the Deputy Governor identified lack of power supply as a major challenge and advocated the intervention of stakeholders, such as community leaders and community development committees to close the gaps.
Addressing the Association’s demand for payment of hazard allowances, he said, like any other national emoluments, the State Government would approve and pay the allowances when the process of domesticating the relevant circular was completed.
Vice Chairman of the association, Dr Akpesiri Evberin, who delivered the address on behalf of the Chairman, Dr Kemepador Oputa, commended the Prosperity Administration for supporting programmes targeted at improving health care needs of the people.
Dr Evberin explained that the association was the largest affiliate body of the Nigeria Medical Association which serves over 80% of the population of the state.
She also raised some concerns of the association, which include, non-implementation of the new hazard allowance for state doctors, manpower challenges, inadequate equipment, lack of staff quarters, and continuous medical education.
In a related development, the Bayelsa State Government has urged the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to put into consideration the peculiarities of the state while evaluating the needs and efforts being made to improve healthcare in the state.
The Deputy Governor made the call when a delegation of UNICEF, Abuja, comprising its Health Specialist, Dr Joe Collins Opio, and a representative of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum, Dr Oteru Joseph, visited him in Government House, Yenagoa, on Wednesday.
He assured UNICEF of the State Government’s preparedness to work with it and other critical stakeholders to bridge the gaps and strengthen the weak links in the healthcare delivery value chain in the state.