The shortage of health workforce and the uneven distribution of available skilled healthcare professionals have been identified as reasons for poor healthcare service delivery in Nigeria.
The Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, called on governments at all levels and private sector alike to develop human resources that would enhance the provision of quality healthcare services in the country.
Mr. Ehanire was speaking in Abuja on Tuesday at an ongoing Human Resources for Health Conference with the theme: ‘‘Strengthening Human Resources for Health Towards Revitalization of Functional Primary Healthcare Centres in Nigeria.’’
The conference was organised by the Federal ministry of health in collaboration with international health partners and key players across the national health sector to discuss and formulate relevant polices to strengthen the Nigerian health workforce for a viable primary healthcare centre in the country.
The conference is expected to proffer solutions and implement such in appropriate manner towards achieving the constant availability of health workforce that is required for effective and responsive health service delivery at all levels in the country.
Mr. Ehanire noted that the three-day conference that started July 18, was convened to raise awareness on the health workforce challenges and issues hindering service delivery and the attainment of health national targets including that of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as to address the shortage of human resources in the health sector.
He said all initiatives introduced to achieve Universal Health Coverage would be feasible if there were adequate human resources to render health services.
“All the initiatives to achieve Universal Health Coverage will be appropriate if the right number of people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time with the right attitude to provide the right service at the right cost.
Strengthening the workforce is therefore a logical step in the right direction which is the main thrust for the 3rd National Human Resources for Health Conference 2017,” Mr.Ehanire said.
Also speaking at the event on the challenges facing the nation’s health workforce in the country, Ibadat Dhillion, representative, World Health Organisation, said Nigeria contributes highly to the number of migrant doctors and nurses to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD countries.
He said Nigeria’s though health centres has been suffering man power loss, Nigeria supplies at least 25 percent of medical personnel in Jamaica, as well to OECD countries as the number of migrant health personel to OECD has gone up to 60 percent in the last few decades.
Mr. Ibadat stressed that Nigeria needs to focus on reviving its health sector as health is a multiplier for inclusive economic growth.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Binta Adamu-Bello, represented by the Director of Special Project, Ngozi Azodoh, said the objectives of the conference was to identify and discuss how to overcome the most critical and pressing human resources for health challenges.
Ms. Adamu-Bello said the conference came at a crucial time in line with the federal government PHCs revitalization program which seeks to rehabilitate 109 PHCs across the country as Human Resource for health is the backbone of health system.
“The national conference could not have come at a better time to discuss and address the numerous issues and challenges related to human resource for health if we are to have a functional primary healthcare centres, PHCs in Nigeria,” she said.
The permanent secretary explained that the overall objective of the conference is to reinforce the awareness of the health workforce challenges and issues hindering service delivery and the attainment of health national targets.
Also speaking at the event, the Director, Health Planning Research and Statistics, Federal Ministry of Health, Akin Oyemakinde, said that in 2010, the National Council on Health directed Federal, States and the FCT administration to establish human resources sections for health desk offices in the Ministry of Health adding that analysis conducted few years later revealed that many states have not complied with the directive.
The report also revealed that most states did not quite understand the roles and responsibilities of human resource for health desk hence, the hosting of Human Resources for Health Conference in 2011 and 2013 respectively.
In her remarks, the National Programme Manager, Women for Health, W4H (DFID Funded Programme), Fatimah Adamu, said that W4H was aimed at training 6000 female health workers and to deploy them to the rural areas in the country.
Participants at the Conference were drawn from the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT.