The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has called for doctors' collaboration to sustain reforms in the healthcare sector, ensuring a resilient and equitable system to deliver efficient, quality and affordable healthcare services to Edo people.
Obaseki gave the charge when he received the new executives of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at the Hospital Management Agency, who were on a courtesy visit at the Government House, Benin City.
The governor, who noted that he is pursuing a holistic reform in the sector and putting in place mechanisms to discourage manpower for healthcare delivery from leaving the country, urged the doctors to support the government’s effort at strengthening the system and curbing the brain drain in the health sector.
He said, “We need more doctors, particularly with the way the doctors are traveling out for greener pastures. What we need is to strengthen the institutions that produce doctors. We are strengthening our educational system to produce more doctors.”
Noting that his administration is tackling the age-old challenges in the health sector such as dearth of modern medical equipment, decaying healthcare infrastructure, inadequate personnel and poor funding, Obaseki stated, “The system we inherited and structure put in place at that time was meant for that time but today the society has changed, leading to the reforms in our medical sector. We must rethink the sector we inherited.”
He continued: “Medical healthcare is global and standardized and as such, we need to measure up. We need to restructure our healthcare system in the state. The COVID-19 pandemic is an eye-opener for us as everyone was restricted from moving around. The lesson is that we must fix our healthcare system.
"We have insisted on healthcare reforms. This is why I brought down the central hospital to decentralize the healthcare system in the state, ensuring that there is at least one healthcare facility in every community to ensure healthcare is closer to the people.
“My focus is on how to produce more doctors by strengthening the basic education system and giving quality education to produce more doctors for the state. We need more than 200 new doctors in the system, who will be in the community to take charge of the PHCs across the state and must be motivated and encouraged to stay here.”
Reacting to the doctor’s request to be included in the N40,000 new minimum wage, the governor said, “Doctors are special breeds of civil servants and earn more and should not be asking for minimum wage. You are civil servants but the only set of civil servants who earn more than the governor. A consultant in your system earns twice what I earn as a governor. Why should you be asking for minimum wage? What the government did is to help those at the bottom because people go through a lot every day.
“The wage is to help those at the bottom to pass the poverty threshold. Certainly, there are allowances due to you but subject to negotiation. We don't like making promises we cannot fulfill as a government. This is one of the quarrels we have with the federal government. You can't go and negotiate a labour contract and impose it on us.”
“In Edo, we respect labour which is why we have not had any strike regarding allowances or wages in the state as the welfare of our workers is important to us,” he added.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and president of the association, Dr. Uaboi Ovbiagele commended the governor for the holistic reforms in the healthcare sector, pledging their support to sustain reforms in the sector.