The Federal Government has proposed 65 years as a retirement age for doctors, health workers and 70 years for consultants in the country.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige said this at a meeting between the Presidential Committee on Salaries, PSC, relevant Federal Government stakeholders, Health Sector Professional Associations and Trade Unions on Tuesday in Abuja.
The meeting was called to discuss the Issue of Hazard Allowance and Retirement Age for Health Sector Workers in Government Health Establishments.
Ngige, while addressing newsmen on the outcome of the meeting, said the proposal had become necessary to improve the conditions of service of Nigerian health workers in order to retain their services within the country.
The minister also said the meeting had made progress and had ironed out issues on the permanent hazard allowance and retirement age for doctors and other health workers.
According to Mr Ngige, part of the measures to retain the health workers is giving them better conditions of service, including increase in hazard allowance and their retirement age.
“We have taken their proposal. The government side will firm up its own proposal and we are reconvening June 1, so that we can have an agreed hazard allowance for health workers in Nigeria.
“We also discussed the issue of retirement age for health workers, being that we want to keep our health workers here in Nigeria.
”A lot of people are coming here to poach and take away people we have trained at very great cost.
”It takes a lot of funds to train a medical doctor, nurse or even a laboratory technologist or physiotherapist. So, we want to retain them here,” he said.
Mr Ngige explained that they could be retained for a longer time by making their retirement age to get up to 65 for normal health workers and doctors and 70 years for consultants.
The minister said in principle, the government agreed to the proposal of the health workers and to put up the necessary machinery in motion for its actualisation.
He added that it was something that would not happen in one day. It has to go from the Council on Establishments to Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly, being something that needed legislation.
”We are making progress. The health workers are happy and we, in the government side are happy also. We need them to keep our health system alive.
“Nobody in government is opposed to the proposal. It is a proposal that is realistic. It is a proposal that we all agreed to last year when COVID-19 erupted.
”Remember that we were even calling back people who are retired. We delayed retirement age by six months for health workers so that we can fight COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic is not yet over. Who knows what will happen tomorrow. We are not praying for any other pandemic but we have to be battle ready at all times, health-wise.
“We have of course done a lot of stock up. We have rehabilitated a lot of health facilities and they are now in top form. We have molecular laboratories all over the place,” Mr Ngige said.
He also noted that each state had one, including isolation centres, Intensive Care Units, oxygen plants, storage facilities for drugs, vaccines among others.
He also said the pandemic had its bad sides as it had woken up Nigeria from slumber in the health sector.
The President of Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Prof. Emmanuel Ujah and his counterpart of Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, Josiah Biobelemoye expressed optimism that they would reach an agreement to give Nigerians quality healthcare services.
Others at the meeting were the Minister of Heath, Dr Osagie Enahire, Director General of Budget Office, Dr Ben Akubueze, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi and his Labour and Employment counterpart, Peter Tarfa.