Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue, has commissioned a 23-room office complex of the State Primary Healthcare Board.
Performing the ceremony on Tuesday in Makurdi, Ortom said he was concerned and passionate about the health care development of the state and promised to immediately furnish the complex.
He said his administration would make funds available for the immediate furnishing of the complex.
According to him, he is mindful of all the demands made by other stakeholders who spoke at the ceremony, including the nine-month salary arrears and employment of health workers.
“I heard all the demands made by the previous speakers to make you more efficient and productive, including the payment of unpaid salary arrears and employment of workers.
“We are passionate about health related issues in the state and would do more as resources improve,” the governor stated.
He then directed the Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Joseph Ngbea, to send a memo to the Executive Council meeting on the issues raised, for consideration.
Earlier, Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), urged the State Government to employ at least 4,000 health workers to compliment the efforts of the existing ones.
Shuaib who was represented by the state NPHCDA Coordinator, Mr Ishola Abdulrasaq, said building structures alone without employing more workers to occupy them, would not make the healthcare effective.
He also appealed to the governor to provide cold vans to the agency for effective movement of vaccines across the state during immunisation.
In her welcome address, Mrs Comfort Agogo, Chairperson, Benue State Primary Health Care Board, said the board had promoted over 1,400 primary health care workers in the state in the last one year.
Agogo also appealed to the government to employ more health workers as some health centres were having less than two health workers to carter for the health care needs of the people.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary (ES), Dr Bem Ageda, said the building of the complex represented the first phase of the three phases planned for the primary health care board.
“In phases two and three, we intend to have a ware house, Walk-In Cold Room, meeting hall and a restaurant. We have reserved a space for this; we have also developed prototype architectural drawings, for these and they are available for perusal and construction.
“We are also in discussion with NPHCDA to assist us and they have connected us with their suppliers for the Walk-in Cold Room. We also intend to have three vans for distribution of vaccines and other commodities to the three senatorial zones.
“We have captured the hall in the 2021 budget and hope he will immediately award the contract for its construction and rapid progress.
”We hope to complete phase two in the next 18 months and in phase three, we intend to make PHCB Makurdi a training hub, not only for health workers in Benue State, but also for neighbouring states within the North Central region,” Ageda said.
In his remarks, Mr Nyam Yisa, Chairman, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeira, Benue State council, commended the governor for building the complex.
Yisa urged him to prioritise the funding of the board to enable it achieve her core mandate of ensuring a universal health coverage amongst the rural populace.
“Acute shortage of health personnel coupled with the mass exodus of health workers who are retiring from service daily, are leaving some of the primary health care clinics with just one professional health worker, in some cases casual staff.
”We therefore call on the Benue State Government to urgently recruit more health workers at the primary health care level, to fill the vacuum created as a result of retirements from service.
“For the 2017 arrears of salaries, we wish to also appeal for adequate consideration for the payment of the nine-month backlog of arrears, to alleviate the suffering of the health workers in the rural areas,” he said. (NAN)