Brain drain: NMA decries doctor to patient ratio in Jigawa

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The Nigerian Medical Association has expressed concern over the patient ratio of doctors in Jigawa State, especially with the current ratio of one doctor to 21,000 patients.

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The NMA Chairman in the state, Dr. Aminu Abdullahi, who disclosed this in a statement to commemorate the 2023 Physicians Week, said “Jigawa has the highest record of brain drain in the country.” The World Health Organisation’s standard is one doctor to 600 patients.

The chairman, therefore, lamented how brain drain negatively hit the state, noting that 16 per cent of the state’s 2023 annual budget was allocated to the health sector.

He said that the association is worried about the sad development, adding, “This is because ours is a bi-directional brain drain within the country and to other states of federation and outside the country.

According to him, “We have about 350 doctors working in both state and federal health facilities. The NMA Chapter in Jigawa has 350 doctors catering for seven million people in the state. Currently, the doctor/patient ratio in Jigawa stands at about 1: 21,000, against the WHO standard of 1/600 patients. The ratio is similar to that of nurses and other health workers in the state. This is one of the worst ratios in the country, which will significantly affect our health indices. It is also worthy of note that Jigawa was among the early states to implement CONMESS and CONHESS salary structures for the healthcare workforce back in 2011, which made it one of the highest-paid states in the country back then. The current challenges bedevilling the health sector as a whole honestly call for sincere, deliberate and fact-guided discussions concerning our healthcare delivery system. With the current economic realities the nation is going through, there is no better time to make the healthcare delivery system in our dear state more efficient and responsive than now.”

The NMA chairman said that the theme of the 2023 Physicians’ Week – ‘This is our chance to get it right in the health sector’ and the sub-themes ‘The Abuja Declaration 22 years after’ and ‘Ethical issues in human organ donation’, are in tune with the current realities in the health sector.