The Paediatric Association of Nigeria says the nation is losing its medical personnel to better organised global settings, leaving the remaining healthcare workers in government-owned hospitals to be overstretched.
The National President of PAN, Dr. Olufemi Ogunrinde, said this at the opening ceremony of the association’s four-day annual general meeting and scientific conference on Thursday in Akure.
The theme of the conference is “Optimising Child Healthcare In Nigeria Despite Current Socio-Economic Challenges”.
According to Ogunrinde, available data shows that the country has less than one doctor to 3,000 patients, while there are 1.5 nurses to 1,000 patients.
He said the maternal mortality ratio is 814 per 100,000 “and is closely linked to adverse neonatal outcomes with pervasive poverty and the stranglehold of communicable diseases.
“We are almost at halfway point, at least in terms of time, to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“Despite our abundant quality human and natural resources, we have, as a nation, continue to make slow progress in actualising the Sustainable Development Goals, especially as pertain to our children and the youths.
“This has affected us so much that our country has continued to fare poorly in virtually all indices of health.
“Yes, we have made some gains in the health sector over the past few years, but we have had the unfortunate title of “the poverty capital of the world” bestowed on us.
“Our under-five mortality rate continues to be in the three-digit range at 104 per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality fares better at 70 per 1,000 live births.
“Our neonatal mortality and maternal mortality rates have refused to decline significantly over the last decade with neonatal mortality stagnating at around 35 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2009, it was 38,” he said.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Banji Ajaka, said the government was doing everything possible to optimise healthcare in the face of different challenges.
He said that his administration established the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital complexes in Ondo and Akure to provide facilities where medical personnel could be trained.
The wife of the governor, Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, who was honoured at the event, commended doctors who have decided to remain in the country.
“I want to thank doctors and other health workers who have decided to stay in Nigeria despite the ‘Japa’ syndrome,” she said.
The Ekiti State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Oyebanji Filani, while applauding the organisers, said the topic for the programme was apt and could only be achieved with intersectional collaboration and adequate funding.
Other speakers stressed the need for government to focus more on the welfare of health workers to address the issue of brain drain in the sector.