The Bayelsa State Government has stated that it will localise the employment of primary healthcare professionals as one of its strategies to deal with problems plaguing the healthcare industry.
At a one-day workshop on the situation of primary healthcare services in the state held in Yenagoa last Thursday, Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo provided the assurance.
According to Ewhrudjakpo, the government will prefer people who have been serving as volunteer primary healthcare practitioners.
According to the deputy governor, the policy will curb absenteeism and improve service delivery in the health sector. He made the announcement through his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi.
He noted that the era of attaching sentiments to official duties was over, warning that primary healthcare workers who had formed the habit of absenting themselves from duty would be decisively dealt with.
Ewhrudjakpo directed all heads of department in the state primary healthcare board to be alive to their responsibilities and effectively address truancy by the staff of their respective health centres.
He said: “We are going to review what you have done. We will be strict; both the mobilisers and the health workers must come from their own communities and be residents in those communities; otherwise, we would be repeating ourselves in a circle of collusion.
“More than 80 per cent of our health workers are here in Yenagoa; henceforth, we will localise this employment. If we must employ nurses and pharmacists, they must be residents in that community. The first criterion is, where is your residence?
“I also believe that our health workers need to change and when it comes to political interference, count me out. Go ask what I did to my own cousin.
“Recently, I directed that the salary of one of my cousins be suspended for three months alongside those working in the health centre in my community, Ofoni. Look, leadership that is set on sentiment and emotions is not leadership.
“So I am advising everybody,especially HODs, to take responsibility. This idea of buck passing and ineffective leadership is unacceptable. We must take liabilities and not only the assets.”
According to him, the workshop was organised to encourage community ownership of healthcare facilities domiciled in their areas and to charge the State Local Government Service Commission and the Primary Healthcare Board to perform their supervisory roles more effectively.
He said that although funding was solely the responsibility of the local government system, the state government would continue to play its resource mobilisation and supervision role to ensure the realisation of set objectives in healthcare delivery.