Following the alarm raised by Wife of the President Mrs Aisha Buhari on the poor state of the State House Clinic, the Permanent Secretary State House, Abuja, Jala Arabi has explained why the Aso Rock Clinic is in a deplorable state.
In the report on the clinic submitted to the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee looking into the situation, Arabi stated that a large number of people taking free treatment at the clinic is responsible for the lack of drugs at the hospital. The report read in part:
“The State House reached an agreement with HMOs with regard to the remittance of all NHIS payments in respect of State House Staff whose NHIS point is the State House Medical Centre.
“It is instructive, however, to note that whereas almost 80% of the personnel serving in the State House access medical services at the State House Medical Centre, only about 20% of them selected the medical Centre as their NHIS point.
“The implication of the foregoing is that, whereas they access free medical services at the Centre, their respective NHIS contributions go to those medical facilities they selected as their providers, even though they do not go there for any medical service. This explains the quick depletion of the drugs and other consumables due to the very high number of patients being attached.”
According to Arabi’s report, out of 329 personnel working in the State House Clinic, 47 non-core medical personnel for several years illegally collected call-duty allowances.
He revealed that some doctors sponsored by the State House on Residency Programmes (usually 2 years), got their call duty allowances paid “even though they are no longer performing call duties at the Medical Centre.”
“Sadly, some of them were discovered to have spent close to 7 years doing a residency, with many changing institutions, as they fail to qualify. In view of the fact that paying doctors on sponsored Training programmed call duty allowance was considered unearned allowances.
“IPPIS (OAGF) was advised to cease paying them such allowances pending their return to duty from training. This has, however, become controversial and we are reviewing with the assistance of the Federal Ministry of Health who are guiding us appropriately,” Arabi said.
He said despite their failure to enlist on the State House Clinic’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), 80 percent of the State House workers and their spouses are enjoying free medical services, at the expense of the government,” the report added.
The House of Reps had passed a motion on the need to investigate the deplorable condition of the State House clinic, and the alleged deductions from the salaries and allowances of the medical staff.
Consequently, the Ad-hoc Committee led by Hon. Magaji Aliyu-headed had requested the Ministry of Health and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to provide a detailed account of the State House Clinic.
Speaking at the commencement of a public hearing of the Ad-hoc Committee, the Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire and the FCT Health Secretary, Mrs Amanda Pam told the committee that the State House Clinic is not directly under the Ministry of Health and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration.
“The State House Clinic is not directly under my ministry. I don’t know who is directly in-charge. I didn’t say that it is not under anybody, may be under the FCT.
“It is not unusual that the clinic is not under the ministry, this is also applicable in some states. This is what we met on ground.
“I am not aware of the status of the training of the doctors practising in the clinic. The choice of who heads the clinic lies on the President. It is the prerogative of the President. The Clinic is supposed to be operated along regular hospitals,” Ehanire said.
But the committee members expressed concern over the reports as it appeared to be that there is no extant law establishing the clinic even though annual appropriations are made for its running.
“The summary of the whole thing is that the clinic is just there, it is not supervised and is not under anybody.
“The Ministry of Health and FCT said they are not aware, meaning the hospital is just there. I want all information on the clinic. We can’t afford to risk the life of Mr President and somebody should be responsible,” the committee chairman said.
At the interactive session were Ismaila Kawu, Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (House); Ita Enang, Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate); Osagie Ehanire, Minister of State for Health and representatives of Muhammad Bello, FCT Minister, held at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.