Minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has decried the huge gap existing in the country’s surgical services provision.
Ehanire, who stated this during the National NSOANP and Cleft Stakeholder’ Conference said baseline findings in the plan show that 166 surgeries/100,000 population are performed in the country against the WHO recommended volume of 5,000/100,000.
This implies that many Nigerians requiring surgical services do not have access to them.
Highlighting the inequitable distribution of good surgical facilities in the country,
Ehanire noted that out of the meager surgeries carried out in the country, more than 85 per cent occur at the Federal Tertiary Hospitals.
Lamenting further, the minister noted 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 are 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 per cent or more of Nigerians are impoverished every year due to surgical care and 66 per cent incur catastrophic expenditure due to surgical care.
“Although health insurance exists, it covers only about 5% of the population and there’s no financial risk protection against surgical care for majority of Nigerians,” the minister stressed.
Speaking further, he said the plan also observes that adequately equipped and fully functional facilities like children’s hospitals, surgical centres of excellence etc is central to the delivery of emergency and essential surgical care for children/adults and projects that a deliberate Surgical, Obstetrics, Anaesthesia and Nursing Plan and the Strategic Priorities for Surgical Care (StraPS) will address emergency and essential surgical care for Nigerians.
According to Ehanire, implementation of the plan will therefore strengthen existing healthcare facilities to provide emergency and essential surgical care and improve access to surgical care for teeming Nigerians in need.