Nigeria needs 290, 000 medical doctors to meet WHO standard’

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A medical expert, Abdulkadir Tabari, has called for concerted efforts of all stakeholders to make Nigeria’s medical residency program relevant and visible in the global mix.

Tabari who is the Chief Medical Director (CMD) Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Kaduna made the call in an address at the 39th annual General meeting and scientific conference of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) recently in Kaduna.

The theme of the conference is ‘Human Resource Challenges of Residency Training: Nigerian situation in the Global mix.’

Tabari, a professor, said it was important to strengthen the residency programme in order to bridge existing huge gap in doctor to patient ratio in the country.

He said a study by WHO published by Spectator Index on January 13 shows Nigeria produces 0.37 doctors per 1000 people.

“According to MDCN as at 2018, there are about 72,000 nationally registered Nigerian doctors, with only about 35,000 practicing in Nigeria.

“This means there is about 1 doctor to every 5 ,700 Nigerians. Far below the WHO standard of 1 doctor to 600 people.”

Tabari said the country needs about 290,000 doctors to fill in the deficit to attain the World Health Organisation standard.

He however noted that Residency programme has recorded some important milestones over the years in spite of numerous challenges.

Despite the low rate by WHO standard, many doctors cannot get government jobs, leaving many to seek jobs with private facilities most of whom give very menial payment and operate below standard.”

The CMD challenged training institutions to come up with training courses for consultants to keep them abreast of current development in medicine as a way forward in the wake of challenges in Nigerian health system.

He also called for enabling environment for quality research by trainers and residents.

He advised government to partner with equipment manufacturers and business moguls on public private partnership to supply needed facilities for training in line with residency training act.

He added that relevant agencies such as medical and dental councils should partner with state governments towards establishing more medical schools and health facilities for training of House Officers and Resident Doctors.

He said government at both federal and state levels should ensure adequate funding of tertiary health institutions.

Tabari advocated for funding of projects for the rehabilitation and rebranding of tertiary hospitals at least every five years, ensuring sustained optimum hospital environment conducive for healthcare service delivery, teaching and learning.

Earlier in his speech, NARDA National President, Olusegun Olaopa, said sound and effective residency training is key to a functional healthcare system as it is the only means of ensuring availability of specialist services to Nigerians.

He said globally emphasis is gradually shifting away from mere specialisation to sub specialisation.

“The human resource challenge has been with us for a while but has rapidly metastasized recently as our health professionals have become one of the major exports to the world.”

He said the next level agenda will be a mirage if serious and sincere efforts are not made to address the human resource challenges mitigating against the availability of well trained and highly motivated specialists and other healthcare workers.

“The recent assent into law of the medical residency training act is indeed a step in the right direction,” Olaopo said.

In her welcome remarks, the ARD President, ABUTH, Bilkis Muhammad, said the AGM come at a time when there was need to look at the structure of the residency program and situate it appropriately in the global context.

“This will help us in coming up with far reaching recommendations that will reshape it and ultimately the health sector as Residency training is the core fabric of health sector.”

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