New pact approves deployment of federal health workers to Sokoto hospitals

Abuja – Doctors nurses and other health professionals working at the Federal Teaching Hospital in Sokoto State can now be redeployed to work in any public hospital in the state following a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed to that effect by the Federal and Sokoto State Governments on Tuesday .

The agreement followed over-concentration of health experts at the only teaching hospital in the state – the Usman Dan Fodio Teaching Hospital.

As many states in Nigeria, the hospital, established in 1989, has more than enough health professionals which the state government believes could help train its health workforce, enhance service delivery and consequently grow the state’s health sector.

“We have over 100 consultants in various specialties. We have close to 400 resident doctors. .. and we have 750 nurses,” said Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Yakubu Ahmed, at the signing of the MoU in Abuja.

He went on: “If you compare us with the state, we have a large number concentrated staff in the hospital. One important thing to note is that anytime we are recruiting new staff, the ones in the state will migrate into the teaching hospital.”

With the arrangement, doctors, nurses and other health workers in the teaching hospital would assist in other public hospitals in the state based on the mode of deployment by the MoU, even as they remain employees of Federal Government.

Six General Hospitals (two in each senatorial district of the state) are being used for the arrangement. The programme will start with three of the selected hospitals.

Ahmed said resident doctors at the teaching hospital would be deployed to rural communities in the state, and they would be supervised by consultants from the hospital.

He revealed that referrals to the hospital are because of the huge concentration of experts in the facility, and that about 90 percent of patients in trauma die before getting to the hospital.

“We have noticed that when we reviewed the number of patients that are brought in dead into the hospital, we found out that 90 percent are due to accident, and the remaining 10 percent due to other cases. When we further reviewed the remaining 90 percent, we found out that only 10 percent died at the scene of the accident, 90 percent died along the way before reaching the hospital.”

In his remark, Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, said the agreement was a “great feat” and was one of the best things that had happened to the nation’s health systems.

He said he had tried to achieve the feat when he was Provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, but the effort was thwarted by “doctors on the state side.

“Mr President is quite committed to delivering good health care to our people. In fact, the economy recovery plan of the Federal Government stipulated providing health and investing in our people. But, there is no way we can do this if we do not provide quality health. What we are trying to do is bridge the gap between Federal and State governments. There should be no wall. This feat we are achieving today is the first of its kind in this country.

“It is not only peculiar to Sokoto State. I was in Zamfara. At the FMC in Zamfara, there are about 120 doctors, and the whole state has less than 40 in the entire state, in fact 23 or so at the last count, to manage 24 hospitals. So, it is a matter of one doctor per hospital. And, yet, one hospital has about 120. To me, that is inequality, inequity and must not persist in our country.

“This is because those who are not benefitting are also Nigerians. It is our duty to address these things and also ensure we offer our people good care.

“What this agreement will do is to transfer quality services from the teaching hospital to the communities. Highly trained specialists will offer services that support the state and the local governments. And, it is something that other state governors should emulate.

“Your Excellency, we should celebrate this model at the Governors’ Forum and encourage other states to emulate it. If we do not, the dichotomy, the inequality will persist,” Adewole said.

The minister furthered that many of federal teaching hospitals in the country are “technically over-staffed.”

In his remarks, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, said there was huge manpower at the Federal Government Teaching Hospital in the state “and this MoU is seeking to unbundle and unleash” the skills of the workforce across communities in the state.

According to him, the agreement would  “have far reaching and very good impacts on the wellbeing of the people of Sokoto State.”

He went on: “We will ensure there is fairness, there is equity and equal opportunity to all in the implementation of this MoU. Though the challenges are enormous, the commitment of this administration in the discharge of its responsibilities is in tandem with the aspirations of our people.

“The overriding objective of this partnership is ensuring that available health care services reach all nooks and crannies of the state towards achieving universal health coverage and to harmonize standard of practices in health care delivery across the state.”

He added that the state government would continue to invest in the state health sector to ensure that facilities offer quality services.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr Balarabe Kakale, said “the MoU is about fusion of the health system with the Federal Government and the state government. We have teaching and other Federal health institutions that have very large number of professionals – doctors, pharmacists, name them – who are constituted in institutions in those states.

“When you approach the state through rural areas local governments, you have very severe scarcity of such professionals. By bringing the two together, you will be ready to deploy those numbers of high-skilled professionals across local governments.…

”In Sokoto, we have more than 30 professors of medicine. More than 100 consultants, almost 800 doctors. Sokoto has more doctors and consultants than Kebbi, Zamfara and Katsina combined. Sokoto state has probably more doctors than Niger Republic: 100 consultants, 30 professors of medicine, specialists in neurosurgery, opthamologist, cardiologists, cardio-thoracic surgery. The essence is unleashing and releasing that capacity to the rural population.”

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