NIGERIA needs to quadruple the number of nurses and midwives she has from the current figure of around 200,000 to about 800,000 to meet up with the country’s health demands according to the findings of a new survey.
With a population of 200m, Nigeria apparently has a very low health workers to patients ratio and unless the gap is narrowed, the healthcare sector will struggle. Adeniji Abdrafiu, the president of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, said that according to figures compiled by the Workload Indicators of Staffing Need (WISN), there is a serious shortfall in the country.
WISN was put in place by the World Health Organisation to serve as a roadmap for scaling up human resources for improved health service delivery in African between 2012 and 2025. It lays emphasis on the availability of sufficient numbers of qualified health workers in the right place as essential for the delivery of quality health services to the population.
In its later review, WISN drew global attention to the critical shortage of skilled health professionals such as physicians, nurses and midwives in 57 African countries. Mr Abdrafiu, said the report revealed that there was a shortage of manpower, which has left a large vacuum in the health sector.
He added: “Ordinarily, we should have about 800,000 nurses and midwives to Nigeria’s population of about 210m but in reality, what we have is less than 200,000 nurses operating in the country. It leaves a large vacuum in the system that must be filled.
“To do that, we must be strategic about it and ensure we don’t promote one group to the detriment of others. A situation where one of the medical teams tries to play the role of the other would not augur well for the health sector.”
Beyond the recruitment of additional manpower, Mr Abdrafiu said, the government must invest more on training nurses in the country. He added that the matter needs to be looked at holistically over the long term.
Mr Abdrafiu said: “We still have a very long gap to fill in the area of getting personnel to train Nigerian nurses. The government must look into the area of having residency programme for nurses, as that way, we would have filled the gap.”