Nasarawa health sector and challenges before Hon. Shafa Committee

November 4th, 2019

The legislature is one of the three arms of government with the primary function of law making for the good governance of the state.

It is also the tradition of the legislature at local, state and national levels to perform oversight functions either in the hallow chamber or out of the assembly premises. To effectively perform this function, the legislature normally divides itself into various committees or committee of the whole house.

At the committee levels, the legislators monitor, closely the roles of government ministries and agencies.

Recently the Nasarawa State House Assembly members were off the hallow chamber of the assembly for two weeks on oversight function. The committees of the house visited both government ministries and agencies of the government among others to assess situations or challenges for themselves with a view to proffer solutions that are facing such ministries and agencies.

Member representing Toto/Gadabuke constituency in the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Hon. Usman Labaran Shafa, who is the House Committee Chairman on Health, led members of his committee on a visit to the state ministry of health and other agencies under the jurisdiction of his committee.

At the ministry of health, the Shafa-led committee was received and briefed by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Ishaku Danladi Abari, and the management team of the ministry.

Speaking, Abari disclosed that despite some challenges, the ministry has been executing its responsibilities that impacts on the lives of the people.

The Committee were also at Dr. Arap Specialist Hospital and Nasarawa State Action Control on AIDS (NASACA). They interacted with the management team and staff and were briefed on key challenges facing them.

At the state Health Care Primary Agency, the Executive Chairman, Dr. Mohammed Usman Adis received the committee. Hon. Shafa warned against truancy and abscondment from duty by the staff of the agency. Such negative attitude to work, he insisted, is negatively affecting health care service delivery.

The oversight function of the committee took them to the state hospital Management Board with an interactive session with leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and staff of the Board.

The Labour Union acknowledged the frantic efforts of the government in providing infrastructure in the health sector but said there was urgent need to address shortage of man power as well as providing necessary incentives that would motivate indigenous doctors working outside the state to come back home and contribute their quota to the development of the state.

The union leaders also stressed the need for government to improve on the working condition of medical and health workers because of the hazard associated with the profession and appealed to the Shafa committee to intervene.

Also speaking, the Chief Executive of the Board, Dr. Usman George Dangana, said the board has 17 functional hospitals under its control but that lack of adequate funding has been the major problem facing the board. Dr.Dangana said the board rely on international donors for some of its needs.

The committee then had a two- days break as its chairman participated in another oversight function which was the screening of commissioners nominees sent to the house by Governor Abdullahi A. Sule.

When the committee resumed its assignment, it rounded up its visitation to the School of Nursing and Midwifery, where the principal of the school, Mr.Zari Solomon, urged for the upgrading of the institution to a College.

The Committee members were also at the Nasarawa State Health Insurance Agency and were received by its Executive Secretary, Gaza Gwamna.

Done with the visits to the ministry and its agencies, the committee now stands at a better position of knowing the challenges the health sector in the state is facing.

Issues raised by the Labour Union during the visit at the hospital management board about shortage of manpower should be taken seriously. Government should initiate and implement policies that would encourage trained indigenous doctors to come back home and develop their home state.

Considering the dangers associated with the health profession, workers in this field should be encouraged to put in their best for the good health of all by creating good working atmosphere for the
Primary Health Centres (PHCs) at the grassroot should be equipped with needs.

It is sad that a patient with stomach pain, headache or fever comes to the DalhatuArap Specialist Hospital for treatment. If our primary health care centres at the grass roots level are equipped, they can handle such cases at that level of medical attention.

When this is done it will go a long way in decongesting the influx of people seeking medical attention at DASH on minor cases.

Good enough Hon. Shafa assured that his committee would collaborate with relevant authorities with a view of tackling such challenges the health agencies in the state are facing.

Generally, the blame for the poor health situation in the country could be traced on the poor state of PHC services at the grass root. To ensure a more efficient health service for citizens, the committee should recommend strict compliance to health sector budget implementation. The committee should therefore make sure that precious lives are not wasted through needless neglect or preventable diseases.

A healthy nation is born out of a healthy people and only a healthy nation or people can prosper.

Hon. Labaran Usman Shafa, therefore, owe the state the responsibility by bringing together the stakeholders in health sector in tackling the challenges the committee has seen during its oversight function.

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