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Why Rivers State needs commissioner of health, by NMA

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The absence of a Commissioner of Health in Rivers State might hamper its preparedness to adequately combat any possible outbreak of Coronavirus in the state.

Chairman, Medical and Legislative Committee of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Ibitrokoemi Korubo, said besides the threat of Coronavirus, the state was in dire need of a Commissioner of Health.

Korubo, who was a former NMA Chairman in the state, told The Guardian that the function of a Commissioner of Health was to push Governor Nyesom Wike’s healthcare policies in the state.

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He noted that beyond the threat of Coronavirus, a lot of policies and ambition of the state government might not be properly articulated or executed without a Commissioner of Health.

He acknowledged that while ministry may have a Permanent Secretary, Director of Public Health Administration and other personnel, who would at least try their best to combat any possible outbreak, the role of a Commissioner of Health could not be overemphasised.

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“That is the man at whose table the bulk will stop. The commissioner is the representative of the governor and government in the Ministry of Health. So, the absence of a Commissioner of Health will be felt. That does not mean others are not trying, but the absence of a commissioner will be greatly felt.

“I think we should have had a Commissioner of Health from the first day of the governor’s second term in office. There are certain commissioners you should put in place immediately.

“Once you have the Secretary to the State Government, Commissioner of Finance and others, I would think that the next should be Commissioner of Health,” he said.

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Korubo, who observed that the governor meant well for the state, however, pointed out that it was not proper to have an Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, particularly at this time.

“The Ministry of Health is not a ministry where you should have personnel in an acting capacity. This is a ministry where you should substantive people so they will be accountable to the governor and people of the state. We are now in dire need of a Commissioner of Health,” he added.

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Korubo also noted that the recent announcement by the Ministry of Health that it would be training health workers and personnel came late, insisting that once there was a reported case of epidemic anywhere in the world, particularly, China, the ministry ought to have been more proactive.

He has meanwhile expressed optimism in the capacity of the state to tackle any health crisis having effectively tackled Lassa fever.

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