By Asma’u Ahmad
The Niger Government on Friday said that it recruited 345 health workers in 2017 to boost health services in the state. The Commissioner for Health, Dr Mustapha Jibril, disclosed this while defending the ministry’s budget before the Niger State House of Assembly in Minna.
Jibril noted that the employment became necessary due to the shortage of manpower in the health sector. According to him, “The number of health workers had been extremely low and they were not being paid like they were supposed to. “But despite the paucity of funds in the state, we have recruited 345 health workers in 2017 and they are being well paid,’’ he said.
He stated that the overall budget performance of the ministry in 2017 stood at 61.8 per cent. The commissioner said that the state had signed an MOU with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen its primary health care systems. “N2 billion will be spent over a 4 year agreement where the state will be paying a certain amount of money and the Foundation will also put in some funds.
“The focus of this government has always been to strengthen the PHC as part of an integrated network of care. “That is why we have been trying to access funds to support the PHC revitalisation of the health reform agenda of the governor,’’ he added.
He disclosed that Contributory Health Scheme would be implemented in 2018, as well as renovation of the 274 Primary Health care Centers in the state. He said other projects to be carried out were the reconstruction of General Hospital, Tunga Magajiya and supply of equipment to all General Hospitals in the state.
In his remarks, the House Committee Chairman on Health, Mr John Bahago, tasked the ministry on judicious use of funds allocated to it in the 2018 budget. Bahago maintained that health was one of the priority areas of the present administration, hence the need for all stakeholders to ensure its success. He cautioned the ministry against extra-budgetary spending without recourse to the House of Assembly.