Group urges FG to declare state of emergency on shortage of health workers

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Group urges FG to declare state of emergency on shortage of health workers

A group called ProjectPINKBLUE, a non-governmental organisation, has called on the Nigerian government to declare a state of emergency on the prevailing shortage of health workforce in the country.

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The group made the call in a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja by Ranci Chidebe and made available to Periscope International.

ProjectPINKBLUE noted with great concern the acute shortage of health workers in Nigeria, stressing that health is the bedrock of the economy, security and all human development and advancement indices of all countries, hence, countries pay attention to the health and health facilities of distinct populations with the objective of providing and improving favorable health outcomes.

It decried the density of physicians to a patient in Nigeria, which is put at 4 doctors per 10,000 patients, 16.1 nurses and midwives per 10,000 patients, which the group said is less than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations of 1 doctor to 600 patients and the critical threshold of 23 doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 patients.

According to the NGO, it is estimated that Nigeria will approximately need 149,852 doctors and 471,353 nurses by 2030, only 99,120 doctors and 333,494 nurses will be available based on the growth rate.

It further stated that going by the above data, by 2030, Nigeria will have a shortage of 50,120 doctors and 137,859 nurses, translating to 33.45% and 29.25% gap in doctors’ and nurses’ supply.

The statement reads in part:

“On this premise, we therefore, urge the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on the shortage of healthcare workforce in Nigeria.

“For a population of 201 million, Nigeria has less than 90 clinical oncologists (that is, cancer doctors) who provide cancer treatment to over 100,000 cancer patients across the cancer centres.

“In our calculation, it means that there is only one cancer doctor to over 1,100 cancer patients in Nigeria. The stark realities of this report stare us in the face and has become a legitimate cause for concern.

“Attracting and retaining healthcare workers is a greater concern. The mass migration of health care workers to foreign countries in recent years has only worsened the inequitable distribution of health care workers.

“As at today, 9 in 10 Nigerian physicians are seeking opportunities abroad. This migration of Nigerian healthcare workers abroad impacts on Nigeria in diverse ways.

“For instance, the mortality cost of Nigerian physician migration to abroad totals to $3.1billion annually; Nigerian government loses at least N3.8million ($9,235) for subsidizing the training of its physicians who eventually leave the country to high income countries (HICs)/abroad.

“These HICs save billions of dollars for pulling physicians that they did not train to their countries. In Nigeria, there are 74,543 registered physicians, however, only an estimated 40,000 are practicing in the country for a population of 201 million.

“Within Nigeria, rural-urban migration has also caused great imbalance in distribution of health workers and distorted access to quality health care.

“The reasons for this problematic migration is not farfetched as the healthworkers contend with high clinical workload, poor healthcare system, poor remuneration, corruption in the healthcare system, poor working conditions, security challenges, inadequate production of graduates from the health training institutions, lack of necessary facilities, poor value for medical professionals and other reasons,” the statement added.

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