THE Nasarawa State Government has employed 300 health workers to boost primary healthcare services in the state.
Executive Chairman of the state’s Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Mohammed Adis, a doctor, stated this while defending the agency’s 2023 budget before the State House of Assembly Committee on Health on Friday, December 2, The Punch reported.
The recruitment followed two investigations by The ICIR in September, which exposed how the state had run its primary health centres for decades with casual workers, comprising community health and extension workers, midwives, and laboratory technicians, among others, who were paid between N4,000 and N10,000 monthly.
Most PHCs in the state have no nurses and midwives, crippling services and stifling patronage. The ICIR’s reports showed that the Federal Government’s Midwife Service Scheme (MSS) failed in the state.
The chairman of the state chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Tammah Shawulu, a nurse, told this newspaper that there were less than 10 nurses and about 30 midwives in the state’s PHCs as of late 2020.
The state Commissioner for Health, Ahmed Yahaya, a pharmacist, admitted there was a shortage of human resources across the state PHCs.
He said the governor, Abdullahi Sule, an engineer, had directed his ministry to improve access to primary health care services across the 13 local government areas by engaging more midwives.
“His Excellency has directed that over 200 workers, worth over N800 million, will be taken in batches to fill in the gaps across the board over time. We have taken the first batch of graduates from the School of Midwifery. Their names have been sent to the Primary Health Care Development Agency so they can be deployed in PHCs across wards in the state.
“We have a midwifery school; the state has absorbed the first set. We are also picking the next three sets. We are sending our memo to the governor for their absorption. Our target for the absorption of these midwives is for them to be posted into the primary health care facilities.”
He also promised the government would engage the casual staff at the PHCs.
Meanwhile, the state adopts the Federal Government’s Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), and the programme fares well in the state, according to The ICIR’s findings, though inadequate manpower remains a challenge.
The BHCPF services exist in at least one PHC in every ward in the state and have been supporting people enrolled on the scheme in the state.
Fielding questions from the state House of Assembly on Friday, Adis said the newly recruited workers were community health extension workers, junior community health extension workers, midwives and other casual workers who had worked many years in the state PHCs.
He gave the assurance that their engagement would boost the state health services.