As part of measures to bridge the gap in human resources in the Nigerian health sector, the Federal Government and its health sector’s partners have concluded plan to begin Public Health Training Initiative in the country.
The initiative is xpected to help address human resources challenges in the sector through training of public health workers on contemporary health issues, among others. The Carter Centre disclosed this recently at the Second National Conference on Human Resources for Health in Abuja.
The Centre, represented by Dr Tolu Fakeye, said it “fully endorsed the efforts of the Federal Ministry and the unrelenting support of the many partners who have joined hands together to correct the acute imbalances inherent in the present state of health human resource, HHR, in Nigeria. It is clear that government alone does not have the capacity or the monopoly of wisdom and strategies and resources to address this gargantuan challenge.
“It is in recognition of this that the Federal Ministry of Health and the Carter Centre have agreed to join hands together to add our efforts to that of the other partners to confront headlong some of these challenges by setting up the Nigerian Public Health Training Initiative (NPHTI) which will take off anytime from now. The Federal Government has demonstrated its seriousness in this regard by meeting its pledge of the first year counterpart fund, and the Carter Centre is eagerly looking forward to a very fruitful collaboration in this five-year joint effort.”
Addressing participants at the conference, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Amb Sani Bala said the second National Conference was specifically convened to discuss and address issues and challenges related to human resources for health, which, according to him, is globally regarded as the heartbeat of health care delivery.
He said: “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, including the attainment of MDGs in Nigeria, at the highest level government; and hence raise the HRH concerns on the political agenda of the country.
“The specific objectives of the conference are to review the progress, build on and sustain the results achieved from the first National HRH Conference; to build consensus on actions to harness the country’s response to HRH challenges and to identify and discuss issues of HRH financing.
Speaking at the Conference, Director of Health Planning Research and Statistics in the Ministry, Mrs Ansa Boco, noted the conference was another milestone towards achieving the goals in health care delivery in Nigeria, and to review the progress report on the first National Conference.
“The theme of the 2nd National Conference is “Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria: Role of Human Resources for Health”, while the overall objective of the conference is to reinforce the awareness of the HRH challenges and issues hindering service delivery and the attainment of national health targets, including the MDGs in Nigeria,”Mrs Boco said.
In his remarks, Country Representative, World Health Organization, WHO, Dr Gama Vaz said 36 African nations were in dearth of 820,000 doctors, nurses and midwives. According to him, a recent assessment made by WHO in 36 countries in Africa revealed shortages estimated at 820,000 doctors, nurses and midwives.
“In addition, internal and external migration of qualified health workers; inadequate remuneration and incentive mechanisms; mal-distribution of the available health workers; underinvestment in the production of sufficient health workers, inadequate capacity of HRH departments to carry out the main HRH functions and; low implementation of most of the existing strategies and plans are identified as the main causes of the present situation which poses major impediment to meeting the needs for delivering health care for all on the continent,” he stated.
Human Resources for Health, he said, have been a priority on the regional and global health development agenda as a critical component of functional health systems that can ensure universal access to quality health care.
Vaz added: “Ensuring the availability of sufficient numbers of qualified health workers in the right place is essential for the delivery of quality health services to populations. There are clear evidences that increase in the density of qualified health workers has a positive impact on health outcomes. However, most African countries that have a high disease burden continue to face severe shortages of health workers. WHO has identified a minimum threshold of health workforce density (2.3 physicians, nurses, and midwives per 1000 population) below which coverage of essential interventions is highly unlikely.
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