Nigeria has shortfall of 144,000 health workers

stethoscopeA professor at the Department of Nursing Science, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Boluwaji Fajemilehin, has said going by the World Health Organisation’s recommendation, Nigeria has a shortfall of 144,000 health workers.

Fajemilehin, who spoke at the seventh Annual Conference of Nurses at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in Lagos on Thursday, said the global body had identified Nigeria as one of the 57 countries in the world facing critical shortage of health workers.

He said, “In 2006, WHO said any country with fewer than 2.3 doctors, nurses, and midwives per 1,000 population is facing a critical shortage of health workers. Against that ratio, Nigeria reported a shortage of nearly 40,000 health workers. But the new data indicates that Nigeria’s shortage is closer to 144,000—over three times the amount reported in 2006. This would be the seventh highest shortage of the 57 crisis countries.”

Fajemilehin in his keynote address at the conference tagged, “Nursing: Task shifting and other Strategies in a Resource Challenged Environment,” raised the alarm over shortage of nurses in Nigerian hospitals and called for framework whereby tasks would be shared between nurses and other health workers to address this shortage.

According to him, task shifting is a process of delegating tasks from specialists to lesser but appropriate health workers to make better use of the workforce and ease bottlenecks in the system.

He, however, noted that tasks could only be shifted to others if adequate training and re-training opportunities have been provided for health workers that were being groomed to undertake these duties.

Also, the Head of Department of Nursing, Mrs. Modupe Shode, said task shifting had become inevitable as many workers were leaving the health system and there was a need for urgent replacement.

Shode said, “Task shifting should be encouraged and implemented alongside other efforts to increase the number of skilled health workers and it should not be seen as low quality care for resource challenged countries but rather an approach that can contribute to health services that are accessible, equitable and of good quality.”

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