Delta Government on Monday, gave approval for the employment of 40 pharmacists to bridge the manpower deficiency of pharmaceutical personnel in government hospitals across the state.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa gave the approval while playing host to the leadership and members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Delta State Chapter, who paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Asaba.

The governor expressed worry that out of 64 government hospitals in the state, 39 had no pharmacists, stressing that such was not a healthy development to the health care policies and programmes of his administration.

According to him, no hospital could perform optimally without the professional input of a pharmacist.

He explained that despite the present global economic challenges, his administration would ensure that government hospitals in the state are fairly staffed to meet the health care needs of the people.

Governor Okowa pledged to look into all the issues presented to him with a view to addressing some of them for the overall good of residents of the state.

On the alleged issue of harassment by some government agencies, he urged members of the society to take up the issue with the relevant agencies if they noticed that what they (such agencies) were doing was not in line with the position of the law.

While saying that many Nigerians don’t pay tax, Governor Okowa harped on the need for Nigerians to always pay their taxes to enable government to continue to perform its obligations to the people.

“If we have 40 pharmacists with 64 hospitals, we know that obviously is not right. I don’t see why we would allow the situation to degrade to that very level because I, also know that recently, I gave approval for the Hospitals Management Board (HMB) to employ doctors and nurses and I don’t think that reasonable provision was made to employ pharmacists.

“Because for us to have 39 of our hospitals without even a single pharmacists, obviously is not right and it ought not to be so.

“So, the Chairman of Hospitals Management Board, at least that one (the issue of shortage of pharmacists in government hospitals) I know I can attend to, I want a memo that will get to my table before the close of the week to employ 40 pharmacists.

“Actually, I don’t need a clap for this. The real truth is that every hospital should have at least one pharmacist. We have been employing people along the line. The huge numbers of staff that we have in this state and the exposure that we have in terms of salaries that we pay does not seem to collaborate this position because if we have been employing staff in many other places (areas in the state civil service) I don’t see any reason why there should be lack of pharmacists within our hospitals. I think that is an anomaly and it must be corrected,” he added.

Earlier, the Delta State Chairman, Pharmaceuticals Society of Nigeria, Pharmacist (Dr.) Kenneth Otenne disclosed that the visit was to commend Governor Okowa for his monumental achievements in all the positions that he had held as a politician and to also, seek ways of partnership in moving the health care sector in the state forward.

Dr. Otenne outlined challenges inhibiting the professional body in the state to include shortage of pharmacists in government hospitals; denial of internship of the Delta State University Teaching Hospital, (DELSUTH) Oghara and other state hospitals; absence of accommodation for pharmacists on internship and non inclusion of pharmacists in the running of the primary health care as well as contributory health insurance scheme among others.

Highlight of the visit was the presentation of an award of excellence in the health sector to Governor Okowa by members of the society.