How Medical Brain-drain Poses Serious Danger To Pregnant Women, Children In Kaduna
Why Medical Experts May Not Apply For Advertised Vacancies – NMA
Our Ordeal At General Hospital Sabon Tasha – Locals
As it is in other part the globe, people always do all within their reach to live their lives to the fullest. One of the things they do to achieve this is to properly attend to their medical needs at least, to the best of their ability and available help around them.
But at a point, governments at all tiers, especially those of sovereign states beginning to noting the need for them to make the health and wellbeing of their citizens a top priority. The health of a woman and that of her children then received special attention from world and local governmental and non-governmental organizations where a lot of resources are been released to meet some of the medical demand all year round.
In Nigeria, West Africa, there are programmes and interventions put in place by government at all levels at one point in time or the other to address maternal and child healthcare services with a view to building a healthy state for political and economic growth and development.
Over time, these programme are been threatened due to several reasons include increase population, dwindling economy and political quagmire during long term military rule and democracy, a situation that has sent many to their early grave. That was due to collapsed health system in the country though a lot is being done in recent times to address some of the health issues affecting women and children in particular.
Like several others, General Hospital, Sabon Tasha, Kaduna, Northwest Nigeria, was established by Kaduna State government some years ago to cater for secondary health needs of the people of its catchment area and neighbouring communities.
In Kaduna, there are other general hospitals in Tudun Wada, Kakuri and Sabon Tasha which are complemented by the ones in Zaria and Kafanchan.
The size of staff depends largely on the size of the facility. General hospitals in Kakuri, Yusuf Dantsoho in Tudun Wada for example has over 20 medical doctors which can still be considered understaffed. At the same time, there are rural general hospital that may just have 10 medical doctors working with them considering their size and number of population they are expected to serve.
On a normal circumstances, at least, a general hospital suppose to have minimum of three nurses and two medical call doctors at any given time to attend to any emergency situation that demand emergency medical attention especially at night.
Specifically, General hospital Sabon Tasha needs minimum of 10 medical doctors, 30 nurses, laboratory technicians, phamarcists, nutritionists, consultants and what have you.
Apart from that, security and lighting of the hospitals are also very important. This is to allow the personnel on duty see clearly, get electrical equipment working while attending or prescribing to patients. In fact, many hospitals, especially privately owned ones today have different sets of standby generating set to light up the hospitals and power their array of equipment.
As at about 20:30hours penultimate Wednesday when this correspondent visited the General hospital Sabon Tasha facility, all the above basic personnel and operational equipment were grossly inadequate thereby leading to emergency patients dying slowly while waiting for ghost staff to possibly attend to them.
For instance, only one middle age nurse was on duty, busy attending to patients and an accident victim that was brought in after he has been left unattended to for about an hour because the nurse has other patients she was attending to. To make the matter worse, she could only make use of a lantern and a small touchlight to carry out her live-saving responsibility.
Some of the patients that were smart early enough made a quick u-turn to visit other nearby private hospitals while unsuspecting ones stay for hours before experienced ones could advised them to use alternative facilities.
But many of those who patronise public hospitals are not unaware of getting quality and timely medical services at private hospitals that abound everywhere today due to failure of government to manage them, their financial status may be partly responsible for their choice of public ones hence the need for critical stakeholders to make public health facilities functional in the interest of the masses.
LOCALS express worry over frequent disappointment at Sabon Tasha facility
Coincidentally, Gobroadsheet came in contact with relatives of one Mrs. Dorcas Manasseh, who was rushed to the hospital at break-neck speed but was disappointed because there was nobody to attend to them on time.
They lamented that, they came in at about 19:30hours that Wednesday but were later transferred at about 8:06 pm to a sister facility that could handle her case.
Mr. Ademola Adeleke, who put a distress call to this medium on that day expressed shock and questioned why such a facility would be referred to as hospital and how much more a general hospital which suppose to be the nearest saviour to the people in the area.
According to him, “the woman came to church and after we discovered she was unconscious and started shivering. We gathered and prayed with her. But we felt we needed to back the prayer with action and that was why we rushed her to the general hospital here for prompt medical attention. But we were disappointed before the only nurse on duty managed to attend to us and then referred us to the general hospital in Kakuri.
“She is lucky to have made it to the one in Kakuri and she’s responding to treatment after blood transfusion. But this is a very pathetic situation we found ourselves here. Others apart from government can come to our rescue even it will mean putting this place together as their corporate social responsibility”, Ademola opined.
Also sharing her similar experience is Mrs. Zibiah Badason, who was rushed to the facility during a child labour four months ago but could not get help.
Her words, “when my month to give birth was due four months ago, I went to general hospital Sabon Tasha for delivery. But to my amazement, there was no single doctor on ground to attend to me. Then a call was put through to the one on call who said he could not attend to me because he has other engagement so he left. They called another one but he didn’t also come.
“While all that was happening, I was loosing strength so I became tired. It was at that point we requested for transfer and I eventually gave birth at a private hospital elsewhere.
“That is just their problem in that hospital. They have gross insufficient medical personnel why the few ones they have are usually overwhelmed with responsibility and only God know how many people especially women and children have died due to delay in getting medical help during emergency”, she stressed.
Now, one wonders if a general hospital that is located in the heart of capital city of the state is experiencing this degree of neglect, what is the hope of those primary healthcare centres located at grassroots?
HOSPITAL management reacts
Speaking to Gobroadsheet via a telephone call, a top management staff of the hospital (name withheld) said, the pathetic situation of the hospital is beyond them especially the issue of understaffing and inadequate medical equipment at the facility.
What we are doing to address inadequate medical staff – STATE GOVERNMENT
Responding on behalf of the state government in his office, Permanent Secretary, State’s Ministry of Health, Muhammed Mamud Shuaibu confirmed that, health sector in the state is grossly in shortage of staff and modern equipment to make them functional effectively quickly added that, the government has already gave the ministry approval to recruit 1,000 nurses across its facilities within and outside the state capital, “what you saw is not only peculiar with that general hospital but applies to most of our facilities in the state”.
According to him, “government is not unaware that there is shortage of nurses in our facilities as a result of which approval was given to the ministry to recruit 1,000 nurses.
“The shortage was due to mass retirement of our experienced ones we have. There has not been serious recruitment for a long time specially during military era.
But when the present administration came on board, the governor was very angry about it and then gave approval for the recruitment of 1,000 nurses. We have already conducted aptitude test for them, marked the scripts, conducting the interview very soon and selection will follow immediately.
“Apart from nurses, we are also recruiting 75 medical doctors, 25 consultants, 50 local health workers. Every year, we do recruit medical officers right from their 400 level at the university. State government do employ and put them on level 6 and by the time they finished their national youth service, they will be posted to facilities to work.
“In addition to that, we are also recruiting about 50 pharmacists, 30 laboratory scientists and 10 nutritionists which is just to augment what we have.
On power outage at the facility he said, “I am just hearing this from you that there was a total black out at the facility you visited because I know that hospital has overhead. May be the generator there develop fault and I know we received report from two facilities their generators developed problem which have fixed but yet to hear of their own”.
But another credible source within the state government said through the government has place employment adverts to recruit more hands, but people are not actually applying for the various cadres that were advertised.
People may not apply for advertised employment cadres because – NMA
On why people may not apply for the medical job in the state’s employment the way it should be, Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Kaduna State, Doctor Shehu Abdulrahman hinted that, it may not be unconnected to issues of poor remuneration and equipment to work with.
“When you have a situation where remuneration is not equal across all tiers, there is only tendency for brain-drain which can either be external or internal. (external brain drain is when medical workers leave the country to other countries while the internal brain-drain is when they leave one state to another).
“In Kaduna State, what we are experiencing is internal brain-drain from the state to other states where their remuneration for health workers is better.
“Anyone who have acquired maximum health training will want reward for his services. In Kaduna, the last time the salaries of health workers was reviewed was in 2012 and as at that time, there was an agreement to catch up with federal government review of 2009. They only key into it by 90 percent and between that time and now, the salary structure has been reviewed twice.
“But in Kaduna as I speak with you, we are still at 90 percent of 2009 wages of medical and health practitioners. So, when you found them in Kaduna government’s employment, its just to use as leverage as soon as they get secured placement in other places especially federal government, then they move on.
“However, in recent time government has started making investment in health facilities. We have seen that happening in Kaduna and we have seen partnership with supporting organizations aiming at elevating health facilities within the state.
“But as we speak, if you can go around especially general hospitals and primary healthcate centres which are the closest to the people, you will be amazed with what you will see and observe”.
Apart from that he said, “go to any state owned facility across the state, the laboratory scientists, clinical services, surgical and others still have a lot gap to be filled. In fact, go to some of the hospitals and ask for accident and emergency unit, then you will realize that there is no what can be described as decent emergency service in any of the hospitals”, the NMA chairman added.
With disturbing stories like the ones captured at a government owned general hospital, facility that suppose to be a safe haven now turning into something else despite the huge chunk of money going into the sector, an urgent intervention is required.
With all the promises made by government functionaries to revamp the facilities, will federal government and indeed Kaduna state government any time soon realise that an healthy society is a wealthy society and take the health of her citizens very seriously than what it is now? Only time will tell.
BY OJO SOLA (09-07-2017)