Nigeria needs to hire 4 million to address health workers shortage – dRPC-PAS

By Aliyu Saleh

To effectively bridge the human capital gap in the health service delivery in the country, Nigeria needs to employ 400,000 health workers every year for 10 years, senior technical advisor, dPRC-PAS Project, Dr Emmanuel Abanida, has said.

He was speaking at the one-day stakeholders meeting on the review of Task Shifting and Task Sharing policy organized by Development Research and Project Centre (dRPC), under the PACFaH@Scale project, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in collaboration with the federal ministry of health on Thursday in Abuja.

The dRPC convened this event under the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health @ Scale (PAS) project, as a follow-up to the successful stakeholders’ consultative meeting for the review of the TSTS policy held on June 4-8, 2018.

The PAS project is a health accountability intervention anchored by the dRPC and implemented by a coalition of 12 indigenous Nigerian CSOs and professional health associations holding government at national and state levels to account on policy, program and budgetary commitments in child and family health sector.

Dr Abanida said the TSTS policy is a process of delegation, whereby tasks are moved from highly specialized to less specialized health workers due to the dearth of health specialists in the country.

He said the number of both medical doctors, nurses and midwives and other health workers are far below the standard needed to cater for the teeming Nigerian population. “For Nigeria to be able to bridge the problem of health workers’ shortage, the country would have to employ 400,000 annually for the next 10 years,” he said.

Before Nigeria achieve that, there is the need for full and proper implementation of the TSTS policy, he said. “When properly done, task shifting can make more efficient and effective use of the Human Resource for Health (HRH) currently available by allocating tasks among front-line health care workers,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 65% of Nigerians lack proper access to healthcare services with rural population being most affected. “With a population of over 170 million, Nigeria needs about 237,000 medical doctors, but currently has only 35,000 doctors. As at 2017, Nigeria is second in terms of the inadequate number of nurses and midwives in Africa with only 152,000,” a statement from dRPC-PACFaH said.

Despite the shortage of health workers in the country, the implementation of the TSTS project is faced with challenges, that was why dRPC-PACFaH hosted public health experts, academics, NGOs and CSOs across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT to brainstorm on the ongoing review of the TSTS policy of the federal government.

At the end of the one-day event, it is hoped that the initiative will galvanize CSOs across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT to work together with their state governments to ensure the adoption of the TSTS policy in the states.

“This is necessary in view of the demand for the more health delivery services in the country,” the statement said.