Bight Newspaper reports that the Bayelsa State Government has indicated its readiness to partner the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) to build a residential estate for medical doctors at the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri.

The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, gave the indication on Thursday when the NDUTH branch of the MDCAN paid a courtesy visit to his office in Government House, Yenagoa.

Senator Ewhrudjakpo said government was prepared to make the necessary arrangements for the siting of the proposed estate in a suitable location, under a joint or counterpart funding arrangement with the doctors.

He suggested that the doctors’ contribution for the project could be through their monthly housing allowances, which would entitle them to occupy and own the residential quarters even after their retirement from service.

He said, “On the issue of residential quarters or housing estate, we will do it on joint-venture arrangement. In this case, we will withhold your monthly housing allowances, and with funding from government, build your houses.

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“We will pull out your housing allowances and government brings out the money to pay. At the end of the day, you occupy the houses, and even after your retirement, it remains your property.”

According to the Deputy Governor, the health needs of the people was a top priority of government, hence the it is expanding the Bayelsa Health Insurance Scheme to enable more residents have access to the scheme.

Drawing a positive correlation between health and societal development, he emphasized that an unhealthy society could not be developed, just as an undeveloped society could not be healthy.

While commending the NDUTH branch of the MDCAN for building its secretariat at Okolobiri, Senator Ewhrudjakpo assured them that government would look into the issues of rural posting allowance, official cars and obsolete equipment at the teaching hospital.

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His words: “I always tell people, the best way to make society more effective is to make the health of the people in that society to be sacred. There is a relationship between development and health.

“An unhealthy society cannot be developed, just as an undeveloped society cannot be healthy.

“For us as a government, health is not just a priority, it is a necessity, because if we have more healthier people, we will have more productive people.

“There are some services you render that require dividends, and there are others you render without anticipation of dividends.

“And social health is one of them. That is why you see that over the years, we have maintained our social health insurance scheme, and we are expanding it for more people to have access.”

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Earlier in his presentation, the Chairman of the NDUTH Okolobiri Branch of MDCAN, Dr. Sambo Biobelete, explained that the visit was to formally invite the Deputy Governor for the commissioning of the MDCAN secretariat building.

Dr. Sambo, who thanked Senator Ewhrudjakpo for always extending support to the medical community in the state, appealed to government for non-taxation of doctors’ allowances, and for the inclusion of honorary consultants to benefit from the new hazard allowance.

He also appealed to government to do more in terms of improved working conditions, including providing official cars for doctors and state-of-the-art medical equipment at the NDUTH to stem brain drain in the health sector.

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