Zanzibar has registered 69 local specialist doctors in 2020 from seven in 2016 to reduce the doctor-patient ratio as now one doctor serves 6,435 patients, the 2020 Annual Social Report has revealed.
Zanzibar, like other low-middle income countries in the world, is working towards the attainment of universal health coverage and access to quality health care for all by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda.
The WHO’s acceptable standard of 1 physician to every 5,000 people. According to the report, the specialists constituted 2.0 percent of the number of active health workers in 2020.
The increase in specialist medics has reduced the problem of medical support by an average of 45.8 percent from 79 doctors in 2019 to 39 in 2020.
The data shows that the number of medical doctors increased from 144 in 2016 to 270 last year as number of assistant medical officers drop to 49 in 2020 from 52 registered the year before while dentists gradually increased from 76 in 2019 to 77 in last year.
However, the report shows that there is a significant shortage of nurses from 1,385 registered in 2020 to 1,342 in the last year.
The same shortage reported in laboratory technicians from 391 in 2019 to 372 last year while the number of pharmacists also falls from 313 in 2019 to 186 in 2020.
There has been increase for physiotherapists where the number has increased from 27 in 2019 to 33 in last year.
The report also recorded shortage in the number of public health personnel from 3,265 in 2019 to 3,149 last year equivalent to the shortage of 3.5 percent.
When tabling his ministry budget, Minister of Health, Nassor Ahmed Mazrui, said despite the positive results, the health sector faced various challenges that affected the implementation of some planned activities including lack of health professionals.
Commenting on the achievements, some community members though commended the government efforts for strengthening the health sector, said there is still a challenge to access timely treatment in health care facilities.
Suleiman Massoud of Fuoni at Unguja West ‘B’ District told Zanzibar Mail that the services provided in primary health care facilities are still inadequate so there is an urgent need for the government to strengthen the sector by hiring more professionals.
Fatma Yussuf said that there is tangible success in the health sector in the last five years compared to the same period from 2011 to 2014, where health services centers have been moved closer to the community.