Nigeria needs additional 155,000 doctors at the ratio of one doctor to 1000 people to achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Prof. Usman Ahmed, Provost, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Federal University Dutse has said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Universal Health Coverage aims to ensure that all people have access to the needed services of sufficient quality without exposing persons (recipients) to financial hardship.
Ahmed who is also a professor of health sciences, University of Manchester, UK told newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja that data from the Federal Ministry of Health shows that Nigeria has 45, 000 doctors registered and practicing in Nigeria with a ratio of one doctor to 4008 people.
“Even if we take it as one doctor to 4000 people and we want to have UHC, meaning a minimum of one doctor to 1000 people, we will need to have at least 200,000 doctors in Nigeria today.
“Which means to add to the 45,000 doctors currently registered and practicing in the country, we will need about 155,000 doctors today.
“ It also means that we will need nearly a million nurses because for each doctor we need several other nurses, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, audiologist etc. and we don’t have them complete in Nigeria,’’ he said.
He said Nigeria should realise that WHO recommended one doctor in 600 people in Nigeria adding that “if we use WHO’s recommendation, we may need more than 155, 000 doctors today.’’
The don recommended one doctor to 1000 people to replicate a model used in India, adding that India had 840,000 doctors in a ratio of one doctor to 1800 people.
He said the Indian Universal Health Care Commission recommended that the country must migrate from one doctor to 1800 people to one doctor to 1000 people to UHC.
“They call it Modicare. Therefore to achieve that they need additional 200, 000 new doctors to add to the earlier existing 840,000 doctors; they also plan achieve the required doctors in 10 years by opening more medical schools,’’ he said.
Ahmed said: “if we want look after ourselves and we need to be serious about UHC through remodelling the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Act and the National Health Act 2014.
He said the transformation of the two Acts and establishment of pilot universities of health sciences would provide a good framework for UHC in Nigeria.
Recall that on Sep 21, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, during 38th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) at Ibadan, Oyo state, said there was “no serious shortage” of doctors in Nigeria.
“The data obtained from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) shows that as of May 30, only 45,000 are currently practicing and that gives us a ratio one doctor to 4,088 persons,” he said.
Adewole noted that what was perceived as a shortage of doctors was actually the uneven distribution of practicing doctors within the country.
According to him, the ratio of one doctor to 4,088 patients in Nigeria is better compared to other African countries.
“Compared to many other African countries the ratio is not bad, for example, in South African, it is one (doctor) to 4,000; in Egypt, it is one to 1235;
“In Tanzania, it is 1: 14,000; in Ethiopia, it is one to 1 to 118,000, in Kenya, it is one to 16,000 and in Cameroon it is one to 40,000,” he said.