By Uche Amunike
Governor Alia of Benue State has revived, Monday, a doctor’s training scheme, known as ‘doctors bond’, which was aimed to boost the Benue state health sector by sponsoring medical students, so that they would in turn, serve in the state’s public hospital.
Recall that the scheme was scrapped by the administration of the former governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, which in turn, brought about a serious shortage of doctors across the general hospitals in the state.
The program provided support to medical students by the state government while they were still in the university and they are required to serve for at least two years after they graduate.
Alia, while delivering his speech during the induction ceremony of 41 medical graduates at the Benue State University College of Health Sciences, Makurdi, instructed that the doctor’s bond scheme should commence with immediate effect. Hear him: ‘The bond-doctors scheme is resurrected. We want all our medical doctors to stay within’, promising to ‘do all we can to provide greener pastures. Please don’t go away.’
After Governor Alia’s directives, the Nigerian Medical Association chairman in Benue State requested that the scheme is restored to address the failing healthcare system. He pleaded that some hospitals in the state had only two medical doctors attending to hundreds of thousands of patients.
The governor noted that he had some interventions he had made immediately he assumed office on 29th May, to address urgent issues affecting the state healthcare industry. These included the payment of 100,000 naira monthly allowance to doctors undergoing the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program in the state.
He also stated that he had paid the 2023 residency training fees for doctors. This was confirmed by the Nigerian Nigerian Medical Association chairman. He further promised the academics who complained that they had a shortfall in their salaries that the discrepancy in the shortfall of their salaries at the college would be fixed immediately.
He tasked the new medical doctors to reflect on the reason why they took their Hippocratic oaths and asked them to offer their services to humanity diligently, adding that the university had a critical role in the growth of Benue State and therefore urged academics to initiate training and research.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Tor Iorapuu, during his speech, commended Governor Alia for being the first governor to attend their induction ceremony. For doctors in the university, he also thanked the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) that the university’s medical school admission quota has been Increased from 75 to 150. He commended them for their resilience, while recalling their ten-year academic journey in the institution. He further advised them to be good ambassadors of the university as they carry out their duties of saving lives.
On his part, the registrar of MDCN, Tajudeen Sanusi stated that the Benue State University College of Health Sciences will keep being a shining example in medical personnel training in the country and encouraged them to imbibe ethical values in their line of duty as the council will not hesitate to discipline doctors who went against the ethics of the profession.
The Provost of the Benue State University College of Health Sciences, Professor Chia Saalu agreed with him and tasked the doctors to imbibe integrity and responsibility while carrying out their duties. He further lauded them for their years of hard work and single minded pursuit, reminding them not to forget their humanity while taking care of their patients.
The Benue State University inducted its first set of medical graduates in 2015. Monday’s induction totalled the number of doctors who have graduated from the school to 367.
The recognition of two female inductees, Dorothy Igbaver and Sandra Imenger, as the best graduating students in surgery, formed part of the highlights of the ceremony.
The graduating medical class also conferred a deserving award to Governor Alia for all the positive changes he has brought to the state’s healthcare sector.