It has been revealed that even with a population of over three million people, Zamfara State has only 46 qualified medical doctors. Most public hospitals in the state are groaning from dearth of medical doctors.
According to Daily Trust, the Chairman Medical and Health Workers Union in the state, Comrade Isyaku Sabo Tsafe said the number was grossly inadequate and that the shortage of medical doctors was much more pronounced when meningitis epidemic hit the state recently.
“Now in Zamfara State there are only 46 medical doctors taking care of more than 3 million people. Divide 3 million by 46, you would be surprised at the number you will arrive at finally,” he said.
He said ‘mal distribution’ is another challenge compounding that of shortage of doctors. According to Comrade Tsafe, this is a situation whereby a large number of the available doctors are concentrated in one area, usually cities, to the detriment of other parts of the state especially rural areas.
He said: “For instance, currently, there are about 20 doctors in the state capital Gusau alone, the other parts of the state share the remaining 26 doctors. Even though something is being done to correct the anomaly.”
Asked why medical doctors were rejecting rural postings, Tsafe said that it might be connected to the security situation in the state.
“No medical doctor will be willing to go to places like Dansadau district where the security situation is not favourable,” he said.
He said very soon, there would be Task Shift in the state, “This is a situation where by some medical doctors would be trained to do the tasks of specialists. If there are no specialists doctors in the state some of the available doctors would be trained to do specialists duties,” he explained.
He said it has been approved by the National Council on Health and would ensure that the gap was bridged.
However, the state Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Sulaiman Gummi debunked the claim that there was dearth of medical doctors in the state.
“I can’t tell you the exact number of our medical doctors now but I can assure you that each of our medical facility has at least one to three doctors. We are also sending them on training and our remuneration and welfare packages are quite motivating. Very soon some of them will return from their consultancy trainings.
“We have concluded plans to recruit more qualified medical doctors and nurses. We are doing all humanly possible to retain the ones we have. We have doctors even in the rural hospitals like the ones in Magami, Moriki, Gummi and so on. So those saying that doctors don’t accept rural postings are wrong. Yes I agree that most of the doctors are heavily concentrated in medical facilities in the cities. But, this may not be unconnected to high population density there,” he added.
The commissioner explained that the state government gives scholarships to students studying medicine in Nigeria and other countries such as China and India saying that payments to such students were made promptly.
He said there were plans to recruit more nurses especially those graduating from the School of Nursing in the state adding that the recruitment may include about 90% of the graduates.
“The nurses are not enough we did a rationalization in the sector and we found out that we don’t have enough of them. This is also because we are losing some of the nurses and doctors to NGOs,” he said.
The Chief Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre, Gusau, Dr Muhammad Kabir Anka in his response to Daily Trust’s inquiry said, “Medical doctors were not enough anywhere and they don’t have much to complain about.”
He however declined comment on the exact number of doctors in the medical facility.
However, the secretary, Association of Resident Doctors, FMC Gusau chapter who gave his name as Dr Nasir said there are about 70 resident doctors and 15 consultants at the medical facility.
“We have talked to the management of the hospital on possible recruitment or let me put it this way replacement of more doctors and they are willing to do so but for the paucity of funds,” he added.
Dr Nasir further explained that some medical doctors have left the services of the hospitals largely because of issues that had to do with post graduate studies.
“Some doctors have left here owing to lack of opportunities to go for post graduate studies and we are taking steps to ensure that those who have left are replaced immediately because we don’t want the ones here to be over worked,” he added.