By CrossRiverWatch Admin
“The last four days have been the toughest four days as the Chief Servant of Primary Health Care in Cross River State! I have seen tears, drama, heard raised voices, screams, low tones, begging, confessions, laughter, plea for amnesty, had shocking discoveries and revelations, seen forged documents, no practicing licence, no document at all, fake promotions, irregularities in salaries received, enough lies of how their grand mother’s cat ate their documents, how fire, flood, witches, and spirits took credentials, while their children mutilated their credentials.
“I have seen persons who finished First School Leaving Certificate at 4 years and others who had WASSCE at 5 years old. I saw people my mothers age, look me in the eye to tell me they are 10 years younger. I have had to sit from 8am to 8pm with out getting up, just to meet all my workers in person and sign final clearance for every single PHC worker. Am sure you are wondering what it is again this time?….Its PHC staff audit, biometrics and head count for all PHC staff in Cross River State!!!
These are the lamentations of the Director General of the Primary Health Care Development Agency, DG CRSPHCDA in Cross River State, Dr. Betta Edu by herself in obvious bewilderment from the depth of fraud that has characterized the primary health sector in the state over the years.
Recall that these revelations are not particularly unknown to stakeholders in the state but the pervasive level is what may have been underestimated before now.
CrossRiverWatch had investigated how former Local Government Chairmen, Commissioners for Local Government Affairs and Heads of Service and a long chain of other beneficiaries have been involved in a racket in the primary health system where they share millions of slush funds from irregularities in staffing.
The new administration seem determined to clean up the system which has caused delays in the payment of salaries of some of the workers.
CrossRiverWatch gathered that last week, the Governor personally directed the DG to immediately commence a biometric audit of the staff in all the PHCs in the state and report back in three weeks to ensure backlog of salaries can be payed.
The exercise which is being supported by the World Health Organization WHO commenced four days ago and has uncovered years longs irregularities that are ear tingling.
But the the young doctor has vowed to rid the system of the rot. Hear her, “But the question is how did things get this bad, if things like these occur in other spheres, should it occur in the health sector where lives are at stake? Should these be allowed to continue? Do we wait till it’s our sister we have to bury because one quack found her way into our health center? How many more women and children should we allow to die because health workers who are paid do not show up to deliver services, will all the phone calls and pressures from many quarters asking me to lower standards and clear their relatives bring back lost lives? NO!!!!!!
“On assumption of office, I was given roughly 4000 PHC workers, however from needs assessment, unscheduled visits and even our dynamic governor, Senator Ben Ayade’s unscheduled visits to some health facilities, it was evident that the number on paper, being paid salaries do not truly exist!
“However, the state need health workers at health facilities and communities, to deliver quality health care to our people. We need a capable health workforce to make “AYADE CARE”, the state health insurance scheme, work. We need people with the right skills and training to deliver our pregnant women and keep our babies alive! We need more commitment to revitalise primary Health care in Cross River State. We want to set the right foundation for primary health care in Cross River state and build a system that truly works.”
The audit has been completed in 6 LGAs while works in ongoing to complete the other 12.
Meanwhile the exercise has seen huge response from the health workers while the DG, Betta Edu has continued to harp on the essence of the exercise.
In Bakassi, she noted that PHCs in Cross River State are suffering from paucity of health workers and regretted that out of the almost four thousand staff on the payroll, the system has only about two thousand.
She said it was such discrepancies that informed the need for the exercise, so that at the end of the exercise, the primary health workers can be moved to the Agency and more PHC workers will be employed to fill the gap that already exists.
The PHC workers pledged to support the process, take their work more seriously and change their attitude towards patients. But there was still a lot of pressure on the DG from relatives of those who have been exposed to see how they will not be relieved of their jobs.
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