The Ondo State branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has blamed the exodus of doctors in the state to other climes on failure of the government to provide a conducive working environment for them.
But the state’s Ministry of Health disagreed with the NMA’s claim, saying the exodus of medical personnel is not perculiar to Ondo State alone.
The Chairman of the NMA, Stella Adegbehingbe, while addressing journalists on Thursday during the 2021 Physicians Week in Akure, lamented the “mass exodus” of doctors on the payroll of the Ondo State Government.
She said the crisis in the state health sector had been worsened by irregular percentage payment of salaries to doctors as well as a hostile working environment.
Mrs Adegbehinge said the impact of the exodus of doctors and other health care personnel on the people of the state is better imagined.
She implored Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to make the work environment conducive and provide the required and necessary equipment for them.
The NMA chairman also urged the state government to embark on massive employment of health personnel in secondary and tertiary healthcare levels in the state.
“The impact of the exodus of doctors healthcare workers to the neighbouring states and beyond is unimaginable,” she said.
“We now have fewer doctors and nurses to attend to an ever- increasing population.
“This year has been filled with a lot of challenges and crises in the health sector of the state and in our country coupled with covid-19 pandemic.
“The crises in the state health sector have been worsening by the irregular percentage of salaries being paid and the hostile work environment.
“This has resulted in the withdrawal of services at different times and a mass exodus of doctors and other health care workers
“We salute the courage and commitment of our colleagues and other healthcare workers who are still committed in giving their best to the good people of f the state despite all theses challenges.”
‘Not peculiar to Ondo’
However, the Press Officer, Ministry of Health, Samson Omotayo, in a chat with PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, faulted the claims of the NMA Chairman, saying the exodus of doctors remained a nation-wide phenomenon, and not perculiar to Ondo State.
“You are aware of what happened recently when. doctors were being interviews for jobs outside the country in Abuja and they had to be chased away,” Mr Omotayo said.
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“That is the situation across all the states and not just in Ondo State.”
He noted that the reality of the dwindling revenues available to the government had made it difficult to pay salaries as being demanded by the doctors.
“This is not just affecting medical doctors, it is affecting every worker, including myself,” he noted.
“The government is trying to ensure that every worker earns something at the end of the month so that nobody goes home without pay.”
The doctors, under the auspices of the National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP), had embarked on a strike in June over alleged poor welfare and payment of percentage salaries by the government.
They had demanded the full payment of salaries when the state government began paying half salaries to workers.
At the height of the crisis, the government offered the doctors 60 percent monthly payments, but they rejected it, saying only a full pay was acceptable.
The doctors in September called off the strike after an intervention by the House of Assembly.
The doctors had to return to work after the state government promised to pay all outstanding salaries owed them since February.
However, the state government has continued to pay workers, including doctors, in percentages promising to revert to full salaries when funds are available.