The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate, says the Federal Government has made provisions for retired medical providers in non-administrative positions to be re-engaged on contractual basis.
He made the disclosure on Saturday in Abuja, while fielding questions from newsmen after his visit to the National Hospital Abuja (NHA).
According to him, this is to close the human resource gap being experienced in the health sector owing to various reasons such as ‘brain drain’ of clinical manpower.
“The recent circular essentially provided for medical providers who are in non-administrative positions, that is those who are in clinical positions to be re-engaged in a contract basis on the same terms as they were so that we do not lose the few that are remaining.
“That will go a long way in reducing the stress on the remaining health workforce.
“This hospital for instance, we have had about 15 anaesthesiologists over the last several years, the last few months alone many have gone.
“We have six that are remaining, some of them are about to leave and we have to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“Whatever the reason, if they are available, we should use them to provide the services that Nigerians deserve. That is our focus and that’s what we are going to do,” he said.
Pate said that in the health sector, human resource is one of the most important and not the building or equipment alone.
According to him, there are thousands of health workers all over Nigeria who are working very hard, sometimes in difficult circumstances to provide services to Nigerians.
“We need to support them, we need to improve the circumstances of their work and we need to reduce the stress level.
“What we have seen is that in many facilities, health workers are leaving, some to leave to go abroad, some moving from one facility to the other because of issues of either work overload or some other circumstances.
“Now the replacement of those health workers can be expedited and we will work with other parts of government to ensure that when clinical providers leave their post, that the leadership of our hospitals are able to replace them with similarly qualified health providers.
“This is so that the burden does not get more on the remaining ones. In addition, for postgraduate trainees we are going to expedite how they get into internships and the circumstance so that they can have productive experiences and learn to practice in the best way possible,” he said.
The minister said that the government would do everything possible to retain those who are willing to return to service.
Pate, however said that the issue of replacement of personnel who had gone is not an easy one, given that in the past: some institutions had misused those opportunities.
“So when they get the waivers to replace or waivers to employ, because of pressure they employ non health professionals and leave the clinical professionals, the nurses, pharmacists, doctors, technicians out of the loop.
“Then because of pressure they hire others because of the employment situation in the country. So it’s a delicate issue, but we are working towards solving that,” he added.