Isles improves doctor patient ratio, now leads in East Africa

16Sep 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Isles improves doctor patient ratio, now leads in East Africa

ZANZIBAR government has improved the doctor-patient ratio to 1:6435, from 1:8392 in 2017, making the island the highest in East African region as per World Health Organization (WHO) figures, whose recommended ratio for poor countries is 1:1,000.

President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein.

Isles’ President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein revealed this over the weekend when speaking at a function to mark successes achieved since the establishment of the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) 18 years ago. The public university’s main campus is located in Tunguu area—about 15km from the Stone Town.

Dr Shein said that since December last year, one doctor treats 6,435 patients, compared to one doctor for 8,392 patients in 2017.

The figure shows that Zanzibar with a population of 1.5million people has made a big improvement in that area as compared to other East African countries such Kenya  (1:16,0000), Uganda (1:11,000) and Tanzania (1:20,000) and Rwanda (1:16,046).

“To reach where we’re it wasn’t simple. We deployed a number of strategies including investing heavily in training medical specialists,” he said.

“We’re determined to meet the WHO recommendation on doctor-patient ratio and we’ll reach there,” the Isles leader declared.

“We’ve decided to transform the Zanzibar health sector to deliver better healthcare services to our people. What we do is in line with the 2015-2020 election campaign manifesto.”

He unveiled measures to increase the number of medical specialists as per WHO guidelines in the Indian Ocean archipelago as encouraging secondary school students to venture into science subjects, awarding and providing scholarships for best performers in their final exams so that they can ably study abroad.

Dr Shein noted that the  SUZA School of Health and Medical Science has been accredited by the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU). The university has been approved by the East African Community Medical Board to use the Mnazi Mmoja Referral Hospital to offer degrees in Doctor of Medicine (MD).

“To us this is an important milestone towards increasing the number of specialists in health sector to improve service delivery in the country’s health facilities,” he told the gathering.

In 2001, the university started with  one campus and now it has eight, which are Vuga, Beit el Ras, Nkrumah, Benjamin Mkapa (Pemba), Tunguu, Maruhubi, Mbweni, Chwaka and Kizimbani.

The university started with one school, but it now has eight, and it also started with one institute but it now two and started. It then had no research centres but now it boasts two such facilities.

“To us, this is a big achievement,” Dr Shein said, noting that SUZA started with two programmes with 71 students, but now 62 programmes with more than 4,000 students are being offered.

He further revealed that the state-run university plans to introduce Information and Communication Technologies, a school of oil and gas engineering, fisheries institute and maritime training courses.

“These courses are in line with our development endeavors including developing oil and gas sector in scaling up blue economy. This also will provide a room for students to have a wide range of choices,” he said.

He however tasked the SUZA academic management to provide enough room for teaching staff in different cadres to further their studies to meet the university’s demands.

“We want to ensure that the university provides quality graduates, who can compete at the national and global levels.”

SUZA Vice Chancellor, Dr Zakia Mohamed Abubakar commended Dr Shein and his government for transforming the university in a drive to make it one of best in East Africa.

The newly appointed VC outlined some of the challenges, include lack of teaching and learning facilities such as modern laboratory facilities, experts, books, computers and projectors.

“We’re in need of buildings for offices and lab as well, as funding is limited   for improving infrastructure and meeting other requirements,” she said.

The idea to introduce SUZA started in 1996, and was officially inaugurated in 2001 by the former President Dr Amani Abeid Karume.

The university offers courses in education, health and medical sciences, natural and social sciences, Kiswahili and foreign languages, continuing and professional education, business and also features and Institute of Tourism.