Two days after the Gombe State government announced that it deferred the due retirement of 100 nurses and midwives due to shortage of personnel, another policy has been announced to address the shortage.
On Thursday, the state government said it has introduced a three-year waiver for nurses and midwives from their legally allowed 35 years of service.
The state’s Head of Service, Daniel Musa, who stated this on Thursday, said the government had to waive the three years training period for nurses and midwives who would have spent 35 years in service before attaining the statutory age of 60.
Gombe State’s law for nurses and midwives mandates retirement after 35 years of service or attaining 60 years of age, whichever comes first.
Mr. Musa said as a result of the existing rule, the number of nurses and midwives retiring in Gombe State annually outnumbered the number of those gaining admission to nursing schools thereby causing serious shortage of such medical personnel in the state.
He said the only way to address the shortage was to waive the three years spent during the training which was considered part of the 35 years in service.
“Initially when a nurse or midwife was admitted in school, the three years he or she will spend before graduation were included in their 35 years of service,” Mr. Daniel said.
The official said the policy meant that those who retired after 35 years in service, and before attaining 60 years of age, were reemployed by the state at huge sums.
“This is because when a nurse or midwife retired at Grade level 14, she or he, will be collecting pension and if the government re-engages him or her, they will be collecting a full salary of level 13 which is additional cost to government.”
“But now with this policy if a nurse or midwife is to retire, based on compulsory 35 years of service and has not reached 60 years he or she has a waiver of three years spent during training in school.”
The head of service said the waiver would go a long way in reducing the overhead cost, because government was spending huge amount of money to re-engage personnel who retired.
He said other departments in the state health sector, including the pharmaceutical department are also experiencing shortage like that of nurses and midwives.
Also speaking, the Commissioner of Health, Kennedy Ishaya, said the state did not have shortage of medical doctors, saying there were at least two doctors managing each of the 22 government hospitals across the state.
He also said about 100 medical students of Gombe State origin were currently studying medicine in universities across the country.
Investigation by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that Gombe State health sector has 579 health facilities with 4,320 health care personnel.
The 2013 to 2018 Gombe State Framework for the Implementation of Expanded Access to Family Planning Services shows that the state has 163 doctors, 69 pharmacists, and 1159 nurses and midwives.
Others are 114 community health officers, 1,209 community health environmental workers, 605 junior community health environmental workers, 560 EHO/EHT/EHA and over 1,140 village health workers.
Meanwhile, a retired nurse, Mohammad Bala, said the shortage of nurses and midwives in the public health facilities was not peculiar to Gombe State, saying it is a national problem.
“This shortage is an irony of sort in the face of torrents of qualified nurses and midwives who are unemployed and this anomaly has been responsible for continuous brain drain coupled with lack of adequate remuneration and incentives,” Mr. Bala told PREMIUM TIMES.
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