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NSP seeks recognition for Nigerian physiotherpists

…marks 50th anniversary

By Chioma Obinna

Where do I go from here?” This was the question Bosun asked no one in particular as he stared into space one sunny afternoon at a Primary HealthCare Centre (PHC) in Ikorodu area of Lagos. The 20-year-old youth stood speechless at the entrance of the PHC with his hands on his head.

He had  just been informed that his aunt, a local farmer who had a stroke and required physiotherapy, could not be attended to. Why? The Center had neither the facility nor required personnel to carry out the services.

Bosun was still trying to recover from the shock when a child was rushed in to the Center. Kehinde, as the child was called, allegedly had been injected at a private hospital two days earlier only for the parents to discover she had an injection abscess. She also required physiotherapy, but was  denied the care due to the unavailability of a physiotherapist at the Centre. Her leg became deformed as a result.

Johnson, a young footballer,  injured in the field of play  was also rushed in but could not get proper care. His career was thus cut short due to a knee injury that could have been taken care of by a physiotherapist.

The foregoing is just a tip of the iceberg as far as the challenges posed by the non-availability of physiotherapy services in the rural communities is concerned. Worse still, the few physiotherapists in the country are jetting out  due to lack of recognition and poor remuneration – a situation,  the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapists (NSP) says is unacceptable. Currently, Nigeria has about 2,000 registered physiotherapists, but just 1,000  practice in the country.

Speaking to Good Health Weekly, shortly after the opening ceremony of its 50th Anniversary and 49th Annual Scientific Conference/ General meeting, spokesperson of NSP, Mr. Chris Okafor lsaid there is an average of only 10-15 physiotherapists  in most Nigerian teaching hospitals. A minimum of 40 qualified physiotherapists and 20 other s on internship are required in a teaching hospital while at a General Hospital requires at least 30 physiotherapists.

Attributing the problem to poor recognition of the  profession, Okafor stressed the need for community based – physiotherapy. “We are calling on government and the Federal Ministry of Health, to give the profession a place that would enable  them contribute to policies that revolve around them and not somebody sitting somewhere and making decision on their behalf. It is no longer acceptable.”

National President NSP, Rev. Jaiyesimi Adeoluwa urged President Umaru Yar’Adua to urgently order  inclusion of their services in PHC services. Presently under the Primary Healthcare Development Agency, the set up ignores the physiotherapy as a vital component of PHC services. That implies that the actual care these people at the grass roots need is being denied them.

“It is necessary for government to take affordable health care services to the rural areas but this care must be essential health needs of the people who are farmers. Most of these farmers suffer from work related Muscleketal disorders unfortunately, to take care of this disorder the necessary healthcare services that they need is not available to them because the health professional group that is capable of handling this peculiar illness is the physiotherapist.”

“It is necessary to re- evaluate the physiotherapy aspect of healthcare delivery in the country and to bring about a qualitative change so as to bring in tune with the hopes and aspirations of the good people of Nigeria.”


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