OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has frowned at the continued delay in giving waivers for recruitment of medical practitioners to fill in the vacuum created by the brain drain of doctors that have migrated to other countries for greener pastures.
The observation was made when the House of Representatives Committee on Health Services, chaired by Mr. Tanko Sununu, continued its meeting with stakeholders as part of ongoing efforts to resolve issues that led to the strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
Chief Medical Directors (CMD) of various government hospitals across the country are said to have requested for a waiver from government to recruit personnel to bridge the human resource gap in order to achieve effective health care delivery in the country.
The meeting had in attendance the Minister of State for Health, Olorunimbe Mamora, the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Head of Service, Mr. Emmanuel Maribole, Director General (DG) Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, as well as the current and past presidents of NARD.
The lawmakers decried the suffering Nigerians are going through due to the strike, insisting that all that needed to be done to ensure that the striking doctors resumed duties must be done.
The lawmakers also asked the ministry of health and the budget office of the federation to make appropriate budgetary provisions for doctors in the country so as to bring an end to the recurrent strikes in the country.
However, the Permanent Secretary, head of service in his reaction to the delay in issuance of waiver of recruitment to CMDs insisted that due diligence must be followed, adding that it takes a maximum of four weeks for approval to be given for medical personnel recruitment.
On his part, Dr. Jat Momoh of the National Hospital, Abuja, countered the claims, saying “it takes no less than eight months to obtain such an approval which has adverse effects on effective service delivery.”
The DG Budget had informed the Committee that the sum of N5.42 billion naira meant for residency training for 2020 and 2021 was available and would be paid once the relevant procedure was followed.
Following the disclosure, the lawmakers unanimously mandated the relevant offices of government to immediately initiate means of payment so as to call off the strike.
As deliberations continued, there was a back and forth between the NARD president,
Uyilawa Okhuaihesuya, and the lawmakers as he was constantly shut off by members of House Committee describing his utterances as uncomplimentary owning to the position he was occupying.
Mr. Okhuaihesuya told the meeting in blunt terms that the strike will not be called off insisting “let everybody suffer the brain drain.”
He told the committee that “if the 2015 and 2016 accumulative salaries and promotion arrears amounting to N28 billion are not paid the strike will continue”.
But the committee and the minister asked the NARD boss to withdraw the statement describing it as a threat.
Okhuaihesuya later withdrew the statement with an apology that he was moved by emotions.