As part of effort to motivate health workers in the State, Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR has vowed to introduce a special welfare package for Abia State health workers in 2024 .
The move is also aimed at discouraging the mass exodus of workers in the State health system of the State abroad for greener pastures.
Governor Alex Otti announced this while declaring open, the first Abia State Council on Health held at the International Conference Centre, Umuahia with the theme, “Providing An Accessible Affordable And Quality Healthcare System For The New Abia”. He said,
“The ‘Japa’ syndrome has indeed taken its toll on the heath sector, however this administration is not leaving any stone unturned in addressing this challenge. To this end, Government has resolved to motivate our healthcare workers through prompt payment of their wages and improvement of welfare packages that we will introduce from 2024.”
The Governor, who stated that health is one of the cardinal objectives of the administration recalled that he promised to make the health of the people a priority. He said that he was happy that the accreditation of the ABSUTH which was lost some years back has been restored with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria increasing its quota into the college of medicine and training of House Officers.
Governor Otti said that his administration is about recruiting some health workers to strengthen the health sector.
“We are in the process of recruiting new skilled birth attendants in order to improve healthcare service delivery in the State. Furthermore, our ongoing digitalization of the Abia State civil service has uncovered some staff that have left their duty post for greener pastures, yet still receive remuneration from the State government. While the criminality involved in this is going to be addressed by the relevant agencies of government, the important thing here is that we do not have the number of hands that were hitter to reported. We are working hard to fill these gaps.”
According to the Governor, he has commenced revamping of Abia State healthcare scheme while the free medical services which started from the inception of the administration have been on in the State.
The State chief executive said that at present, the government is strengthening the primary healthcare and ensuring that there are healthcare workers to man such facilities accros the State. He added that, his administration is revamping the Abia State Health Insurance Scheme
He further said that his administration has started retrofitting and retooling the healthcare facilities in every part of the State, adding that the administration has renovated and commissioned the General hospital in Amachara, Umuahia and Abia State Specialist and Diagnostic Centre, Umuahia while work is ongoing in the other 14 General hospitals accros the State. He called on all Abians to que into the mantra of “A New Abia is Possible”
Speaking also, the Minister of Health, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Abia State Ministry of Health, Dr. Ifenyinwa Uma-Kalu said the event was apt arising from the experience of Covid – 19 that exposed inadequacies of healthcare and need to improve on it.
The Minister stressed the need for State governments to support the Federal government by providing the necessary infrastructure in the healthcare system and congratulated the Abia State Governor on its resolve to renew the approach of healthcare system.
In an address, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ngozi Okoronkwo described the first State Council on Health as a demonstration of of the commitment of the Governor Alex Otti’s administration to prioritizing developmental initiatives that is capable of unlocking the potential of Abia’s strategic human capital to fast -track the attainment of socio- economic development of the present administration.
Dr. Okoronkwo said that the focus of the administration is to bestow on Abians a health system that meets the needs of the people irrespective of socio-economic status, adding that it would in turn put Abia on the path of attaining Universal Health Coverage for all.
She noted that under the present administration various health institutions are being retrofitted, saying that the State has also met Abuja declaration by allocating 15 percent of the 2024 budget estimate to the health sector while the proposal for the upward review of health workers emolument is currently receiving the attention of the Governor.
Also, the keynote speaker and former Director, Health Planning and Statistics of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Ngozi Azodo stressed the need for functional healthcare system. She said that successful healthcare delivery hinges on collaboration and partnership and appreciated Governor Otti for bringing back hope Abia healthcare sector.
The event which featured goodwill messages from the representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), Caritas Nigeria, NACA among other partners was chaired by the Mayor of Ohafia LGA, Chief David Ogba Onuoha while many diginitaries were present.