Doctors in Katsina state have given the State Government a three-week ultimatum to address the deteriorating healthcare services and other health issues in the state or face industrial action.
Abduljalil Abdullahi, the chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Katsina branch, made this known at a news conference in Katsina on Wednesday.
He said the association was dismayed at the poor state of healthcare delivery in the state, hence its decision to issue the ultimatum.
He said “it is sad that Katsina State with a projected population of six million people and 34 LGAs has the worst healthcare indicators in Nigeria.”
He alleged that the state’s maternal and child mortality rates were among the highest in the country as most of its 22 hospitals were being manned by one doctor or at most two.
“A hospital should have a minimum of four departments namely, internal medicine, paediatrics, surgery and Obs & Gynae with a senior medical officer heading each department, with three other doctors under him; but in Katsina State it is not so.
“In fact, Katsina General Hospital, our only training institution at present has no consultant in internal medicine and surgery and this is affecting the quality and credibility of internship programme which in turn impacts on the lives of the citizens of the state.”
Mr. Abdullahi alleged that in spite of the problems, the NMA members in the state were being challenged with unnecessary bottlenecks from the State Government as it refused to pay their outstanding arrears of CONMESS salary.
“There were also deliberate wrong computations of NMA members’ salaries, non-payment of 15 per cent contract, in addition to non-indigenous doctors, non advancement and promotion, and over-taxing among others,” he added.
The chairman called on the State Government to urgently re-prioritise its policies and improve on human resources rather than capital health projects.
He said the government should provide adequate health personnel and improve the quality of internship programme.
He also called for immediate payment of all outstanding salary arrears, reverse the inappropriate taxing of salary, and provide incentives to retain health workers.
The state’s Commissioner for Health, Nasidi Danladi, confirmed the receipt of the union’s complaints, saying that government was looking into the demands with a view to addressing them.
He appealed to the union not to take further action but to await government’s response to the demands.