The Bayelsa State Government has assured the management and staff of the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), Okolobiri, of its commitment to addressing challenges facing the hospital within limits of available resources.
Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the assurance while granting audience to the Chief Medical Director and representatives of various medical and health unions of the hospital, at his office in Government House, Yenagoa, on Thursday.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, quoted Senator Ewhrudjakpo as saying that the state government’s desire is to make all its hospitals and other healthcare facilities functional.
To this end, he said government had already set up a committee to comprehensively look into the manpower and other pressing needs of all health facilities in the state.
Acknowledging the sacrifices being made by the Management and staff of the teaching hospital, the Deputy Governor, however, pointed out that government would not be able to tackle all the challenges confronting the health institution due to financial constraints.
He, therefore, constituted a four-man taskforce headed by the State Head of Service, Barrister (Mrs) Biobelemoye Charles-Onyeama, to identify the immediate infrastructural needs of the hospital.
On the contentious issue of salary disparity in the health sector, Senator Ewhrudjakpo, explained that medical personnel were not supposed to draw both call duty and shift allowances at the same time, stressing it is also improper for health workers resident in the city to be drawing rural posting allowance.
On the issue of domestication of the residency training fund for medical doctors, he said the bill was before the State House of Assembly, and once it was passed, government would do the needful.
His words: “We are quite aware of our responsibility to the teaching hospital. On the issue of infrastructure, we really need to look at what are the immediate and important needs. If we do these, we will be able to know and put our money where our mouth is.
“I want us to get a taskforce, just as we set up for the tertiary institutions, to look at the immediate things we need to do in our teaching hospital.
“The taskforce will go into the hospital to determine the major infrastructural deficits that we need to address, like renovation of dilapidated buildings, and may be additional buildings that need to be built. The taskforce will also deal with the issue of equipment.
“The issue of human resources is not peculiar to the teaching hospital. We are aware of that need and we need to provide the basic minimum we can afford.”
Speaking earlier, the Chief Medical Director, NDUTH, Okolobiri, Professor Dimie Ogoina, lamented that the hospital is suffering equipment, infrastructural and manpower deficit arising from retirements, resignations and the challenge of brain drain.
These and other operational challenges, according to Prof. Ogoina, have made it practically impossible for the teaching hospital to meet its three-fold mandate of training, providing specialist healthcare and research.
In their separate remarks, the Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Koroye, and the President of the Resident Doctors’ Association, Dr Namara Aseimo, NDUTH Branch, called for the implementation of the rural posting allowance, and the medical residency training fund for increased human capacity development.
Chairperson of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) in the state, Mrs Elizabeth Ouserigha-Usen, and her Pharmacy counterpart, Mr Milia Adugo, pleaded with government to resuscitate the shuttle bus service, proper placement of interns and pharmacists.