In the midst of the raging Coronavirus disease pandemic, the health sector in Kogi State is under threat by brain drain and flight of health professionals. In recent times, no less than four doctors have left the State civil service as a result of non payment of salary and poor renumeration.
This was made known on Wednesday by Dr Oyiguh Omakoji, Kogi State Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA. Omakoji was on a familiarization visit to the Kogi State Council of Ulamaa when he made the disclosure.
The new chairman was elected in August 2020 and is committed to the welfare of his members. He said more members have threatened to leave in pursuit of greener pastures and pleaded with his hosts to intervene in the interest of the people.
”The issue of strike is not what I want my own administration to welcome. I would want to be very proactive in discussing with government to ensure that things do not reach the level where doctors will be frustrated to go on strike. This will create crisis in the health system of Kogi State.
“Salaries have been revised over and over again since 2009, 2014 and now there is minimum wage. Kogi state is still at the lowest level of 2004. So, the doctors are not happy that their salaries compared to their counterpart in FMC is about half, compared to their counterparts also in other states.
“As at yesterday, four doctors left the service of the Kogi State Government. So they are leaving en-mass and we cannot afford to say nothing is wrong. Things are going wrong and and am not happy this is also happening under my leadership. We can’t count the numbers of doctors that have quit the services of the state. This does not speak well of the confluence state. Am just two months old in this office.
“This cannot continue. I just have to cry out now before things get out of hand. Whatever the governor can do, to avert further loss of our doctors to other states, he should please do it before things get out of hand. As he is celebrating his victory at the supreme court, he should extend that celebration to bring smiles to the faces of doctor’s in the service of the government of Kogi State” he added.
Omakoji also commented on other issues in the health sector including the ongoing strike by Resident Doctors.
”The resident doctors at the Kogi State Specialist Hospital are on strike as I speak. It is not only in Kogi State but the entire nation. Their claims are legitimate. The government complained that they don’t have a lot of money to be able to deal with issues. But if you made promises in the course of this pandemic, it is important they keep to it.
“They promised allowances for those who at different duty post and risking their lives for people and you are unable to keep to this promise. People who the government made this promise has the right to them to keep their promises. And this is what is happening and I want you people to show understanding.
He lamented on the continuous closure of Federal Medical Center, FMC, Lokoja, adding that many families have lost their loved one’s in the state since they could not afford the bills of private hospitals when their relatives are sick and need treatment.
Omakoji further stated that ” FMC Lokoja has over 250 doctors. The hospital has been closed for over two months and nobody is saying anything. What ever the reason the hospital was shut down, the council of Ulamau and other key stakeholders should be concerned with this development.
Responding, the State secretary, Kogi State Council of Ulamau Alhaji Babango Idris called on the association to stop the activities of quack doctors in the state. According to him, the council will continue to synergize with NMA toward the protection of medical facilities and doctors in Kogi State.