20th August, 2010
Lagos State Commissioner for Health Dr. Jide Idris has asserted that the state government would continue to place issues of remuneration and welfare of her work force on the front burner contrary to speculations of nonchalance on the part of government especially from the striking doctors in spite of its limited resources and ever increasing population burden.
Idris who stated over the weekend while speaking with newsmen noted that the commitment of government to the issue of remuneration and welfare of her health personnel explained the increase the budget of the health sector from N2.5 billion in 2000 to over N24 billion in 2009.
Said he, â€œfollowing the most recent negotiated upward review of wages in the health sector last year, there has been an average gross monthly salary increase of 39% for medical doctors and dental surgeon cadre of staff. Health professionals are also benefiting through the phased distribution of vehicles and the facilitation of accessing housing mortgage schemes. Like other civil servants, they also enjoy 40% rebate on state land. We are also looking into other areas to improve on their welfareâ€.
He stressed that government has within the last three years employed 5,000 health workers with more than 70% of which are clinical staff through the Ministry of Health, the Health Services Commission and LASUTH to meet the demands created by infrastructural upgrade activities in addition to the automatic replacement of exited staff in the health sector.
â€œThe premium placed on the professional development of existing members of staff through Continuing Medical Education programs, exchange programs for skill acquisition/updates, clinical update and management courses are also deserving of mention. For example, over 1500 different clinical staff have benefitted from clinical update training, 48 medical directors and other senior doctors from management training. We have an arrangement with a German University for exchange programs in which two sets have already gone while plans are at advanced stages for the departure of the third setâ€, he explained.
He explained that government faced with the challenges of an ever-increasing population and urbanization has put in place robust plan and strategies for the health sector which are being implemented in phases within the limits of resources available to government.
â€œThese are evident in the areas of capacity building of all health professionals, revitalization of primary health care system, regulatory and quality assurance activities, development and implementation of health financing strategies, health promotion activities and the continued roll-out of programmes inclusive of the free health scheme which have recorded an upward trend in uptake by residentsâ€, Idris added.
The Commissioner opined that government in recognition of evidence-based positive correlation between infrastructural and economic development, emphasized the overhauling of health infrastructure through the phased rehabilitation, refurbishment, equipping and upgrading of existing health facilities as well embarking on the construction of new ones at all levels of healthcare delivery.
Said he, â€œgovernment, in recognition of the ramifications of the challenges of urbanization in the megacity has also put in place strict urban and regional planning guidelines with requisite regulations such that development is in line with a master plan; introduced the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to decongest our road apart from offering commuters affordable, safe, efficient and reliable means of public transportation, the scheme has provided employment and also reduced albeit in some measure, carbon dioxide emission and green house gases and it is also a means of improving access to the health systemâ€.
Idris pointed out that government has not been discriminatory in the delivery of health services in spite of challenges confronting the sector and the competing demands for scarce resources stressing that the goal of government is to ensure that every resident of Lagos State have unfettered access to healthcare without any significant barrier, be it geographical, physical, financial or cultural with commitment to public health has a priority.