My vision for Jigawa state (V) 

Let me start by reminding my fellow Jigawa state citizens of the enormous task before all of us. Taking Jigawa a step further on the development ladder will require collective revolutionary efforts from all stakeholders. For Jigawa state to move away from its current status, it will require more than a four or eight-year performance by one or two state governors. We must put in place and support the sustainable implementation of long-term plans that will change the course of our history. I don’t believe our political differences should stop us from charting a better course for the new world.

Today, I want us to discuss health and our plans for the sector. The past few years have been very critical and challenging for Jigawa State and Nigeria at large. Our regular battles with Malaria, maternal ill-health and infant mortality, the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 alongside other endemics and our peculiar battles with annual floods which usually lead to the outbreak of diseases all demand that we give the health sector the priority and attention it deserves.

As a matter of policy, our first priority is improved health budgeting and implementation. It is commendable that the Jigawa state government budgeted up to 16% of its 2022 budget to health, but the range over the preceding years have been 10-15% or less. Another main problem is budget performance. For example, Jigawa state budgeted about 13.5% (over N21 billion) in 2021 for health, but the performance was not up to 40%, according to official documents, meaning that less than N8.5 billion was released out of the proposed amount. This will not yield the desired results.

Unless we are faced with unforeseen emergencies, health will get the highest budget and funds release after education. Our major deliverables are improved health access for all, irrespective of demography or location – free primary healthcare for the elderly who are above 70 years, free antenatal care for remote and rural women, subsidised healthcare services for the disabled, Improvement and upgrade of health facilities to provide consultancy services, improvement in manpower quantity and quality and effective health insurance scheme.

What is the current picture of health in Jigawa state? The total number of our health workers are less than 8,000. Data available to us shows that we currently have 156 medical doctors of which very few are consultants, 57 pharmacists, 1,503 nurses and midwives, 4,500 community and primary health workers. These few workers are expected to take care of almost 7 million people. On the average, every medical doctor is to take care of over 40,000 people. These, among others, are the reasons most secondary health services are beyond the capacity of our health architecture.  

In the whole of Jigawa state, only one state-owned specialist hospital exists, which was handed over to the Federal University Dutse as a teaching hospital. Although two more are under construction at Hadejia and Kazaure, but we need more to meet our needs. We also have the Federal Medical Center Birnin-Kudu. The 25 general hospitals we have including those still under construction are overstretched, hence they need expansion, upgrade and additional staffing. Our 287 Primary Health Centres, including the uncompleted ones, are mostly in bad shape, without equipment and adequate personnel. I intend to address this including guaranteed power supply to many health facilities through the use of solar energy to reduce the cost and hazard associated with generators.

Some critical health reforms have been implemented since 1999 which led to the improvement of the sector. The Ministry of Health was rejuvenated to oversee the entire health sector through five departments: the Gunduma Health System Board (GHSB), two health training institutions consisting of a college of Nursing and Midwifery, a specialist hospital and a semi-independent Medicare organisation (JIMSO). The GHSB with its headquarters in Dutse has nine Gunduma councils and over 664 health facilities, comprising general and cottage hospitals, primary health centres, basic health clinics, dispensaries and health posts. We hope to build on these achievements.

As a prelude, we will Insha Allah upon assuming office formulate a transformative health policy. We will then embark on the provision of health infrastructure, equipping and maintenance in batches. We will engage in massive planning for recruitment and development of required manpower in addition to sponsoring the training of Jigawa indigenes, especially girls, as medical doctors, to address the shortage of medical personnel. We will sanitise and standardise the process of procurement and distribution of drugs. We will Introduce a strong health management information system to ensure systematic planning and monitoring including surveillance and control of major diseases like HIV/AIDS.

We shall invest much on prevention which is better than cure. Most of our diseases come from the abuse of environment. We will Insha Allah strengthen the necessary legislation for the enforcement of environmental health laws, community sanitation and household hygiene. We will be more proactive than reactive. We will enter into collaboration with international and national stakeholders in health. Public-private partnership will be used to provide new world-class health infrastructure.

We will Insha Allah build the foundation for the building of a world-class hospital that consist of all medical departments with the ability to render any type of medical services and receive referrals from all 27 local government areas. If we succeed, in a matter of few years, Jigawa people will no longer have to go to Kano or any other state for treatment of advanced cases or severe medical complications. 

We will declare a state of emergency against maternal mortality. Timely antenatal care will be made readily available and accessible to rural and urban women. Nigerians spend an average of N200 billion annually in treating or fighting malaria. We will declare absolute war against malaria in Jigawa state.

We are quite aware that none of our policies will succeed without a healthy population. As such, we will try very hard to ensure a sound health system. We will prioritise the establishment of adequate response systems for emergencies across all 27 local government areas. We shall utilise your mandate to create and deliver a health-care system that nurtures a healthy and productive population in Jigawa state.

Mustapha is the Jigawa state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for the 2023 general elections.