The Federal Government has restated its resolve to improve the conditions of service of Nigerian health workers in order to retain their services within the country.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige said this on Tuesday after a meeting between the Presidential Committee on Salaries, relevant stakeholders, health sector professional associations and trade unions on the Issue of hazard allowance and retirement age for health sector workers in government health establishments.
Briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting, held at the Presidential Villa banquet hall in Abuja, Ngige said they made progress and ironed out issues on the permanent hazard allowance and retirement age for doctors and other health workers.
According to him, part of the measures to retain the health workers is giving them better conditions of service, including the increase in hazard allowance and their retirement age.
Ngige said, “We have taken their proposal. The government side will firm up its own proposal and we are reconvening June 1 so that we can have an agreed hazard allowance for health workers in Nigeria.
“We also discussed the issue of retirement age for health workers, being that we want to keep our health workers here in Nigeria. A lot of people are coming here to poach and take away people we have trained at very great cost. It takes a lot of fund to train a medical doctor, nurse or even a laboratory technologist or physiotherapist. So, we want to retain them here.”
He explained that the health professionals could be retained for a longer time by increasing their retirement age to 65 for regular health workers and doctors, and 70 years for consultants.
The minister said in principle, the government agreed to the proposal of the health workers and to put up the necessary machinery in motion for its actualisation.
He said, “It is something that will not happen in one day. It has to go from the Council on Establishments to Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly, being something that needs legislation. We are making progress. The health workers are happy and we, in the government side are happy also. We need them to keep our health system alive.
“Nobody in government is opposed to the proposal. It is a proposal that is realistic. It is a proposal that we all agreed to last year when COVID-19 erupted. Remember that we were even calling back people who are retired. We delayed retirement age by six months for health workers so that we can fight COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic is not yet over. Who knows what will happen tomorrow. We are not praying for any other pandemic but we have to be battle ready at all times health-wise.”
“We have of course done a lot of stock up. We have rehabilitated a lot of health facilities and they are now in top form. We have molecular laboratories all over the place. Every state has one. We have isolation centres, Intensive Care Units, oxygen plants all over the place and good storage facilities for drugs and vaccines and a lot of research is going on too in the area of pharmacy and allied biochemistry. The pandemic also has its bad sides but it has also woken up Nigeria from slumber in its health sector.”
The President of Nigeria Medical Association, Prof Emmanuel Ujah and his counterpart in the Joint Health Sector Unions, Josiah Biobelemoye, expressed optimism that they would reach an agreement capable of giving Nigerians quality healthcare services.
Others at the meeting included the Minister of Heath, Dr Osagie Enahire, the Director General of Budget Office, Dr Ben Akubueze, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi and his Labour and Employment counterpart, Peter Tarfa.
309 total views, 3 views today