The Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, on Thursday, said the state had uncovered on its payroll some doctors who left the state employment and migrated abroad to seek greener pastures, in what is commonly known as japa.
According to the governor, such doctors are still collecting salaries from the state despite that they have left the state employment and are now working abroad.
Otti made the revelation while speaking at the first Abia State Council on Health at the International Conference Centre, Umuahia with the theme, “Providing an Accessible, Affordable and Quality Healthcare System for the New Abia”.
The governor, while observing that doctors’ emigration had impacted negatively on the state’s health sector, promised to tackle the trend by giving doctors a special welfare package from next year.
He said, “The ‘japa’ syndrome has indeed taken its toll on the health sector; however, this administration is not leaving any stone unturned in addressing this challenge. To this end, the government has resolved to motivate our health care workers through prompt payment of their wages and improvement of welfare packages that we will introduce from 2024.”
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The governor added that his administration would recruit more health workers to strengthen the health sector.
“We are in the process of recruiting new skilled birth attendants to improve healthcare service delivery in the state. Furthermore, our ongoing digitalisation of the Abia State civil service has uncovered some staff that have left their duty post for greener pastures, yet still receive remuneration from the government. While the criminality involved in this is going to be addressed by the relevant agencies of government, the important thing here is that we do not have the number of hands that were hitherto reported. We are working hard to fill these gaps,” he said.
Otti said his government was strengthening primary health care and ensuring that health facilities were manned by personnel across the state.
The Minister of Health, represented by the Permanent Secretary of Abia State Ministry of Health, Dr Ifenyinwa Uma-Kalu, stressed the need for state governments to support the Federal Government by providing the necessary infrastructure in the health care system.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr Ngozi Okoronkwo, described the first State Council on Health as a demonstration of the commitment of Otti’s administration to prioritising developmental initiatives that capable of unlocking the potential of Abia’s strategic human capital.