COVID-19: The 1:16,000 Doctor-Patients’ Ratio In A’Ibom Worries NLC

Comrade Sunny James
Comrade Sunny James

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Akwa Ibom Council of Nigeria Labour Congress is deeply concerned about the dearth of medical personnel in the health-care system of the state.

In particular, the state NLC is worried by one medical doctor to 16,000 patients’ ratio (1:16,000) in Akwa Ibom against the doctor-patient ratio of 1:1,000 recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO).

Painting the gloomy picture of the health sector at Workers Solidarity Centre, Atan Offot, Uyo, Sunny James, the state NLC Chairperson, said the state health sector is plagued by a scarcity of essential staffers in all departments of the service.

James who raised the alarm during the partial observance of 2020 International Workers’ Day in Akwa Ibom State on Friday noted that the gaps created by the retirement of staffers mostly nurses in April 2020 are yet to be filled.

“The local government Health Service (Primary Health Care System) is worst hit by this challenge. Ideally, the recruitment into the health system is supposed to match the population growth of the state so as to at least maintain previous per capita ratios of availability of this core staffers.

“For instance, with 361 medical doctors in the state civil service, the ratio of doctors is in the region of one doctor per every 16,000 Akwa Ibomites. This is a far cry from the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended a doctor-patient ratio of 1:1,000.

“The lack of manpower is the primary reason for the collapse of the Primary Health Care System in the state. We, therefore, plead with His Excellency to kindly review the sack of 700 mostly health workers who were last year dropped from the payroll in the local government system.”

On other unresolved issues affecting the workers, he listed non-payment of arrears of New Minimum Wage to primary school teachers, indebtedness of salary to 297 staffers of Akwa Ibom State University, non-recall of four labour leaders unjustly sacked by the management of Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company, Onna; and non-payment of CONHESS/reviewed hazard allowance to the health sector, calling for government’s intervention in these areas.

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Earlier, Dominic Abang, the state chairman of Trade Union Congress had called on the government to regularise health workers’ salary structure (CONHESS), and review the defects in the salary scale of public servants from Grade Level 07 to14, among others.

However, Governor Udom Emmanuel represented by Effiong Essien, the Head of Civil Service did not respond to the demands.

Effiong Essien (m) with other Labour leaders
Effiong Essien (m) with other Labour leaders