.Nigeria has less than 90 clinical oncologists
.Brain drain affecting nation’s health sector
Some stakeholders in Nigeria’s health sector have urged the federal government to tackle the acute shortage of healthcare workers due to continuous migration to other countries.
The stakeholders made the call on Wednesday, during a press conference organized by project PinkBlue. They noted that the rate at which the nation is experiencing shortage of healthcare givers is alarming as the current density of physicians to a patient is 4 doctors per 10,000 patients and 16.1 nurses and midwives per 10,000 patients. He said this far less than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations of 1 doctor to 600 patients.
The Executive Director, Project PINKBLUE, Runcie Chidebe noted that attracting and retaining healthcare workers has become a great concern in the nation’s health sector as only about 40,000 physicians are currently practicing in the country of over 200 million people.
Chidebe attributed the shortage of health workers to mass migration of health workers to foreign countries in search of better conditions of service.
“The mass migration of health care workers to foreign countries in recent years has only worsened thee inequitable distribution of health care workers. As at today, 9 in 1- Nigerian physicians are seeking opportunities abroad.
“The migration of Nigerian healthcare workers abroad impacts on Nigeria in diverse ways, for instance, the mortality cost of Nigerians physician migration totals $3.1 billion annually; Nigerian government loses at least N3.8 million for subsidizing the training of its physicians who eventually leave the country to high income countries abroad”.
Accorrding Chidebe, “poor healthcare system, poor remuneration, poor corruption in the health care system, poor working conditions, security challenges, inadequate production of graduates from health training institutions, lack of necessary facilities, poor value for medical professionals are major reasons responsible for the migration”.
Also speaking, the President of Nigeria Cancer Society, Dr Adamu Al-Hassan Umar lamented the high burden of cancer in Nigeria due to depreciating state of health facilities in the country.
Umar said, “The World Health Organization posit that in 2020 alone, Nigeria contributed to the world cancer burden with 124, 815 new cases and 78, 899 deaths and these numbers are expected to be on the rise.
“The depreciating state of our health facilities, late presentation, limited access to quality care, unequal and/or outright poor distribution of oncologists, high cost of cancer therapies, limited access to funds for treatment and limited training for oncology professionals are some of the biggest reasons we still have poor cancer outcomes in Nigeria”.
While the chair, oncology Pharmacist Practitioners of Nigeria, Pharm. Ramat Masud Alabelewe welcome the Upgrade Oncology Pharmacy training as an important and much needed intervention, a breast cancer survivor, Gloria Okwu said the training will strengthen the capacity of the Nigerian Healthcare workers and oncology professionals.
The training which is a brain child of Project PINKBLUE is supported by the Upgrade Oncology, a U.S – Nigeria Science and Technology Exchange Program.