The federal government says the country is in need of additional 702 ppediatric surgeons to adequately cater for the surgical needs of children.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, stated this Monday at the National Surgical, Obstetrics, Anaesthesia and Nursing Plan (NSOANP) programme for Nigeria, and cleft stakeholders’ forum organized by Smile Train in Abuja.
Represented by the Director of Hospital Services at the ministry, Adebimpe Adebiyi, the said fully equipped and functional facilities were central to the delivery of emergency and essential surgical care for children and adults.
He said implementation of the NSOANP would strengthen existing healthcare facilities to provide emergency and essential surgical care and improve access to surgical care for teeming Nigerians in need.
He said: “Worthy of note is the fact that despite the WHO recommended surgical workforce density of 20 per 100,000 population, as at 2019, Nigeria has only 1.65 per 100,000 population indicating a surgical workforce crisis.
“This evidence indicates that there is a severe shortage of all the professionals required to provide surgical, obstetrics, anaesthesia and nursing care.
“For instance, there is only one surgeon, obstetrician, anaesthetist/100,000 population against the WHO recommended 20/100,000 population.
“The density of paediatric surgeons is even worse, at 0.14/100,000 children below 15 years against the recommended density of 1/100,000 children.
“At the moment, Nigeria requires an additional 702 Paediatric Surgeons to address the deficit. It is estimated that 65 percent or more of Nigerians are impoverished every year due to surgical care and 66 percent incur catastrophic expenditure due to surgical care.”
Smile Train Vice President and Regional Director, Africa, Mrs Nkeiruka Obi said to ensure comprehensive cleft management, Smile Train had deployed tools to general hospitals and primary health centres across the country.
She called for more collaboration in ensuring prioritization of patients with cleft in receiving safe, timely and quality treatment.
“Neglected surgical conditions continue to be a burden among many of our underserved communities including access to safe and affordable care. In efforts to change the narrative on getting data on patients with cleft, the revolutionary cleft e-registry platform has enabled researchers and policy makers with empirical evidence on cleft in Nigeria,” she said. Co-chair of the National Surgical Anaesthesia and Nursing Plan, Prof. Emmanuel Ameh, said funding remains the most important threat to implementation of Nigeria’s NSOAP.
He noted that the Plan represented a stepwise and organized platform for the strengthening and scaling-up of surgical care in low- and middle-income countries.