By Bode Olushegun
The Nigerian Medical Association has called for domestication and full implementation of Medical Residency Training Act in Borno State.
This, according to the Chairman of NMA in the state, would address the numerous challenges in the state’s health sector.
Speaking during the Annual Physicians’ Week on Tuesday in Maiduguri, the Borno State Chairman of NMA, Ali Mohammad-Ramat, said the call became imperative in order to address the challenges bedevilling the health sector especially in getting skilled human resources.
He said that the Physicians’ Week was an annual weeklong events of the Nigerian Medical Association(NMA) to celebrate medical professionals’ contribution to effective healthcare service delivery and research in Nigeria.
Mohammad-Ramat explained that it also provided an opportunity for medical professionals to review events of the health sector during the past twelve months and identify areas of possible improvement.
He said that the NMA in this year’s Physicians’ Week celebration was deeply concerned with the increasing trend of suicide among Nigerians and the mortality ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “It is for this reason that the 2020 Physicians’ Week celebration is theme Strategies for Health System Recovery During COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, while the Sub-theme is Dental Care.”
He however lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic had been spreading rapidly globally, with a considerable impact on the global morbidity, mortality and healthcare utilisation as well as social and economic dislocation of families, communities, state and country’s.
He said that the implementation of the medical residency training in the state teaching hospital would go along way in mitigating the impact posed by the challenges.
Mohammad-Ramat also explained that another neglected public health disease in Nigeria was the burden of dental services, despite advances in the practices.
He decried that the number of health professionals in the state was a clear indications that they were inadequate to achieve the Universal Health Coverage in the state.
He urged the federal government to redeemed its pledge of allocation of 15 percent of its budget to the health in order to address challenges sectors.
Also speaking, Dr Joseph Jatau, a former Chief Medical Director, said that the residency training when fully implemented in the state would produce a great number of specialists in various fields, which would go a long way to alleviate the problems militating against the provision of modern and sound healthcare services to the people.
He explained that the residency training would also save the state government a lot of funds used to sponsor doctors for speciality in various fields abroad which had brought huge financial burden on the state.
He added that the huge resources saved in the training could be used to further improve the health institutions or re-channeled to other people’s oriented projects, thereby making healthcare available to all.
“The residency training will also open room for research activities, especially in collaboration with the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, where postgraduate students will be trooping into the institution for knowledge oriented programmes,” he said.
He lamented that mal-distribituon, poor skills-mix, and limited capacity were other challenges faced across the different health workers categories and cardres in addition to gross urban and rural disparities existing in the distribution of available human resources between LGAs.
He also identified worsened security challenges and lack of requisite manpower, particularly doctors, worst of which was the unavailability of the required specialist and consultants.
“Borno has a projected population of 5,860, 200, million, according to the 2006 National Population Commission’s census. More than half of this population are women (50.8 percent), 20 percent are under 5, 22 percent are women of child bearing age (15-49) and five percent are pregnant women.
“The state has also total fertility rate of 6.1 percent while frequent unplanned pregnancies pose high risk of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality due to a weak health system and protracted crises situation in the state.
“People of the state over the past decade have surffered serious security challenges culminating in Humanitarian crises ranging from displacement, economic hardship unemployment which has imposed public health issues on the population.
“These problems have led to increased demand on health needs of the people and this requires concerted efforts toward rebuilding and sustaining the health resources of the stage.
“Luckily, sound healthcare service to the citizenry is on the very top priority of the Borno Government to ensure that no citizen is left out of the sound health care services, through the establishment of the Contributory Healthcare Scheme,”he said.
Jatau said that the state had been among the leading states in in terms of meeting the existing health facilities but it’s efforts were compromised by inadequate staffing.
He said that based on the HeRAMS 2018 report, the state had about 810 facilities, comprising about 85 Primary Health Care Hospitals, 317 health clinics, 294 health posts, 57 IDPs clinics, 3 Tertiary Hospitals and 53 secondary health facilities.
He explained that three of the health facilities were integrated into designated Regional Referral Centers, one each in the three Senatorial Districts of the state.
He lamented that only 424 of the Health facilities were fully founctional, noting that 64 percent hospitals were damaged by the insurgents.
He listed four dimensions of achieving a sustainable health care workforce which included availability of competence, responsiveness and productivity.
“Looking at the health indices in Borno state, there is a need for delibrate policy for achieving both number and quality of Specialist for qualitative and affordable healthcare to the growing population of the stage,” he stated.
He lauded Gov. Babagana Zulum for constituting a high powered Committee to develop a blue print for an establishment of a State University Teaching Hospital with a view toward providing effective, qualitative and affordable healthcare to the people of the state.