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One Year In Office:With Over 200 Ghost Workers Flushed Out Of Delsuth, Oborevwori Blazes The Trail

By Felix Ofou

These are indeed glory days for Deltans as far as the health sector is concerned. This is in keeping with the resolve of Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, Governor of Delta State to improve on the well-being of the people. In less than a year in office, many are beginning to feel the impact of the giant strides in this sector.

With drastic reduction in maternal mortality rate of about 265 deaths per 100,000 births, as against a national average of 2000, Delta stands a distance far ahead many states. This is even as efforts are on to include more complicated surgeries in the Contributory Health Scheme, which has at today capped at 1.4million.

Dr Joseph Onojaeme, the Honourable Commissioner for Health, gave these heart warning revelations in an interview in which he provided rare insights of recent developments in the health sector in Delta State.

He revealed that over 200 ghost workers on the payroll of the Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara have been fished and flushed out of the system, thereby saving the government huge sums of money in less than a year.

Dr Onojaeme confirmed that the ghost workers, along with the syndicate behind the nefarious act was smashed following the backing and executive order by the Governor.

“We found out that some of those still on the payroll had traveled out of the country and working in hospitals abroad, but were collecting salaries and sustained by a syndicate within the system. There was a particular case of a well known top doctor who traveled abroad for eight years and receiving salary. With the support of the Governor we were able to sanitize the system and flush out the bad eggs”, he stated.

He also disclosed that quackery and issue of registered medical facilities have been reduced to the barest minimum, with fines imposed on those who failed to meet the deadline set by the government.

“Statistics showed that there were about 1500 medical facilities in the state when Governor Sheriff Oborevwori came to power. But only 300 were registered. Following stern measures put in place, the number of registered facilities has jumped to over 700, while the others who could not meet the deadline were asked to pay fines ranging from N200,000 to N500,000 into the Treasury of the state”, he added.

The health commissioner thanked Governor Oborevwori for giving anticipatory approval for the immediate replacement of nurses and doctors leaving the system in search of greener pasture and paying the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) allowance for resident doctors.

“Each resident doctor is expected to be paid N951,400 as MRTF yearly. We have about 300 resident doctors in the state. As at today, we are not owing them. So you can imagine how much the Governor has spent in paying them up to date. As a result of the so called japa syndrome, we are able to maintain a balance because of the anticipatory approval given for us to immediately replace those leaving the system”, he declared.

Onojaeme said there was every reason to cheer as far as the health sector was concerned, noting that so much has been achieved in less than one year of Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori as Governor of Delta State.

But he was full of more praises for his boss for approving the establishment of a college of health technology in Ovrode, Isoko North Local Government Area of the state. The aim is to bridge the manpower gap in the health sector.

The excited Commissioner for Health revealed that with the recent ground breaking ceremony by Governor Oborevwori, work on the campus have already started, noting that this is not expected to last more than six months to enable the first set of students resume in January 2025.

Onojaeme said Delta currently boasts of less than 1000 technical personnel as against 7500 needed to sustain the sector. He stated that Governor Oborevwori graciously approved the establishment of the college to close the massive manpower deficit in the sector.

“Immediately after we took over office, a needs assessment was conducted and it was discovered that there was a huge manpower shortage. Out of 7500 needed for effective healthcare delivery, it was discovered that there were less than 1000 personnel.”

“Coupled with the so called japa syndrome which has become a major challenge to the health sector, we knew something decisive needed to be done. Fortunately, as soon as His Excellency, the Governor’s attention was drawn to this shortfall, he immediately approved the establishment of the college”, he revealed.

At the ground breaking event, Oborevwori stated thus: “With this state-of-the-art facility, this institution will provide quality education and requisite practical know-how for healthcare professionals who are currently in short supply in the state.”

“Through investment in education and healthcare infrastructure, we are investing in the sustainable prosperity and longevity of our dear citizens. I sincerely appreciate the World Bank for its timely supportive partnership with the Delta State Government in the improvement of our health indices”.

The commissioner similarly, confirmed that Oborevwori has approved the upgrade and equipping of 215 out of 441 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in the state, with 25 already completed as part of a pilot project.

“Each PHC to be upgraded costs N30million. When you times that number by 215, it amounts to a huge sum. This is aside the N3billion approved for the upgrade of 21 out of 64 general hospitals in the state.”

“This is clearly an unprecedented investment in the health sector. So much has been done in less than a year, making the three tiers in the sector a marvel and one of the best in the country. Definitely, Governor Sheriff Oborevwori deserves special commendation for spectacular achievements in the health sector”, he declared.

With these landmark achievements within such a short time, there is no doubt that Governor Oborevwori has kept faith with his M.O.R.E agenda, especially as it concerns meaningful development. He is definitely set to walk the talk.

But, these are still early times in the life of the administration. Even though the chairman of the Hospitals Management Board (HMB), Dr Paul Oweh, at a recent press conference, indicated that the hospitals in the state have witnessed more than 60 percent in patient’s attendance, there are nonetheless challenges that have not been completely wiped out.

Among the problems affecting the sector is the monster known as the japa syndrome. No soon after medical personnel are absorbed into the system, many of them resign in search of greener pasture abroad. Staff discipline and training also remain an uphill task, apart from the continued devaluation of the naira, which has made the prices of most drugs to hit the rooftop.

* Ofou is the Executive Assistant on New Media to Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, Governor of Delta State

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