Calls for State of Emergency in Health Sector
By Chioma Obinna
The Chief Medical Director of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Professor Adetokunbo Fabanwo, has called for a State of Emergency in the health sector even as he said that Nigeria needs 237,000 doctors to achieve Universal Health Coverage.
Fabanwo who spoke in Lagos, expressed worry that out of the 91,000 doctors in the register of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, only 40,000 are practising while 51, 000 are either abroad or into other things.
“An emergency means there are certain urgent measures that must be taken. It doesn’t have to pass through so many processes like the everyday Nigerian laws,” he explained.
Lamenting the inadequate number of doctors practising in Nigeria, he said if 40,000 are practising, where are the remaining 51,000? Eighty per cent of them are abroad, while 20 per cent have been affected by internal brain drain. “Internal brain drain is when a doctor stops practising medicine and starts doing something else. Statisticians have calculated that it is going to take the country 100 years, at the rate we are going, to produce all the doctors we need,” he stated.
Fabamwo who spoke during the 2019 Ordinary General Meeting of the Medical Guild in Lagos, insisted that the country’s authorities must first accept the inadequacies in the health sector if it must move forward in solving the problem.
“There must be a careful master plan for the health sector, which should be implemented faithfully and with sincerity. Also, we need to review the wages in the health sector, ensuring that health workers are well paid and able to afford the basic things of life,” he added.
“I believe we have enough resources to run a healthy health sector. It is a matter of priority.
At the conference themed: “Challenges of Inadequate Human Resources in The Health Sector,” the Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr Saheed Babajide, said shortage of health practitioners in the country was caused by lack of decent treatment by their Nigerian employers.
Babajide said the theme was relevant and required urgent attention.
He identified three parameters including infrastructure, patients and healthcare providers that must be in place for healthcare delivery to be qualitative and effective.
“Increased infrastructure and increasing patient load require an increase in the number of health workers, but there is often an unwillingness to do this.
“When infrastructure and number of clients increase, while the number of healthcare providers remains static or reduces, it becomes impossible for workers to provide accessible, qualitative healthcare delivery for the populace. This will lead to an increase in the morbidity and mortality rates in the country.
“The challenges can be resolved appropriately through health policy, which requires the political will to bring appropriate prioritisation and an increase in budgetary allocation to healthcare,” Saheed added.