Makurdi — Director of Public Health in Benue State Ministry of Health, Dr. Joseph Kumba, has called on governments at all levels to tackle the issue of shortage of health workers in the country.
Kumba, in a paper presented at the just concluded scientific conference organised by the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN) in Makurdi, said governments must acknowledge the need for more health workers.
He said government at various levels must show commitment to convincing parliament to approve adequate funds to tackle problems facing the health sector.
“National and global efforts to achieve the health targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations in 2000 are thwarted in many countries by shortage of health staff, their often inequitable distribution, and gaps in their capacity, motivation and performance.
Internal mal-distribution, unequal and inequitable distribution of health workers, with most located in urban areas, and movement from the public to private sector. International migration of skilled health workforce (brain drain) from the developing to developed countries, dismal working conditions for health workers, including unsafe workplaces, inadequate compensation and incentives (financial and otherwise), and insufficient or no career development opportunities as well as the high burden of disease and epidemics, especially the HIV/AIDS pandemic, has put a terrible strain on the health workforce,” he said.
According to Kumba, the embargo on employment had worsened the situation at all levels in the country coupled with “the effects of retrenchments, voluntary retirement and departure, internal and external migration and sickness and death from communicable and non-communicable diseases have placed the health system at the epicentre of the Nigeria’s health workforce crisis.”
The director maintained that Nigeria has one of the largest stocks of human resources for health in Africa comparable only to Egypt and South Africa, adding that in 2008, there were about 55,376 doctors and 224,943 nurses and midwives registered in the country, which translates to about 39 doctors and 160 nurses and midwives per 100,000 people.