By Iteveh Ekpokpobe
Real reason behind the recruitment training of community nurses and midwives by the Delta State Ministry of Health is towards generating over N80 million for personal aggrandizement, investigation has revealed.
Although in defence, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye, claimed his decision was approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria to commence the training of Community nurses and midwives while abandoning over 1500 graduate nurses and midwives in the state, facts point to the contrary.
A source within the Ministry disclosed that the real reason behind the decision by the state Commissioner and his team was to sell the application form, currently selling for N10,000 to a targeted 4000 applicants for each of the programmes.
At that rate, the commissioner and his team will generate N40 million for each of the programmes amounting to N80 million, the source disclosed.
Meanwhile, the ministry is also selling past question papers at the rate of N2,000 to the applicants, a venture allegedly coordinated by the Director Nursing Service (DNS), Mrs. Mabel Ugbanaka, on behalf of the ministry, though she has refused every contact to comment on the allegation.
Most interesting in this money business is that the revenue as generated is not channeled through the Delta State Board of Internal Revenue (DBIR), as dictated by the guidelines for operation of Treasury Single Accounts (TSA).
In a twist, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Minie Oseji, denied knowledge of any of such trainings undertaken by the ministry of health.
Nevertheless, our finding reveals that Delta State Government stated some time ago that it had no rural communities; hence it reportedly stopped the payment of rural and riverine allowance to nurses and midwives in the state.
In the same vein, allowances for rural and riverine community nurses and midwives were reportedly stopped in October 2019 by the State Ministry of Health following the claim that there were no rural and riverine communities in the state.
Why then is the State Ministry of Health selling forms to train community nurses and midwives for the local government health centres?
Delta State, Only State Implementing the Programmes So Far – Investigation
An investigation has revealed that Delta State seems to be the only state so far, in South South, South East and South West geopolitical zones, implementing the Community Nurses and Midwives Training Programme as instituted by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria.
Granting that the Secretary General/ Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, Alhaji Faruk Umar Abubakar had written to all state’s health ministries to key into the programme in order to bridge the gap of limited manpower in the nursing sector, it was not a matter of compulsion.
According to the letter, “Kindly indicate your interest to participate in the programme to enable the council give you approval on admission quota based on physical and human resources capacity available in your institution. In Nigeria, there is currently a great demand for nursing care to be accessible to children, adolescents, adults, older people, vulnerable groups, victims of crime and disasters, and internally displaced persons in their own communities and settlements.”
“In order to close this gap and to further accelerate the achievement of the health related sustainable development goals targets and universal health coverage in Nigeria, the council is introducing community nursing programme to meet the health care needs of the rural and hard to reach areas.”
“The programme is designed to produce competent lower cadre nursing practitioners who would be at the forefront to implement nursing and health care services at the grassroots towards meeting the health care needs of the rural and hard to reach communities in Nigeria.” It read.
Grooming Quacks Puts Deltans Lives at Risk, Nurses and Midwives React
In reaction to the development, the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Delta State Council has accused the State Commissioner for Health of sabotaging competence for pecuniary interest.
According to them, the programmes were grooming grounds for quackery which would place the lives of Deltans at risk once the trainees are eventually unleashed on society.
The body of nurses is insisting that there are enough already trained and certified nurses and midwives in Delta state, adding that, should the state express need for certified nurses, the association would provide qualified nurses for the government.
Secretary of the NANNMS, Delta State Council, Comrade David Chukwuke Izu, described the training as nauseating, a breeding ground for quacks who will, at the end, jeopardize the health of the people of Delta state.
“If the programme is allowed to run it will breed licensed but non-skilled midwives who will be more dangerous than quacks due to the license they will brandish, hence endangering the lives of their clients because of their level of competence. It is also believed that the products from these trainings will only be products for domestic use only in the local communities and cannot be employed by other governments agencies aside of local government councils in Delta state.”
In this lieu, the nurses in the state are calling for a halt in the programmes with a call on the government to decongest the unemployed graduate nurses and midwives running over 1500 in the state.
“They want to train community nurses and midwives whereas there are graduate nurses already on ground, trained and prepared for the job. Why not employ them instead of training new ones? Nurses and midwives were recruited last in the local government areas in 2004, a total of over 16 years between 2004 and 2020.
“One may now wonder how are the health centres in the communities coping with expected mass shortage of manpower. And from 2004 till date, no graduate nurse has been employed for the local government councils whereas nurses are being churned out of nursing and midwifery schools annually.”
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