Pathologists in Nigeria have cried out over the rising incidence of the fall in the number of pathologists working in the Nigerian healthcare sector.
They also called for immediate action by the government and all concerned to help arrest to slide so as to avert imminent collapse of the care system.
Arising from their 13th Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting, which held recently in Lagos, the pathologists, operating under the auspices of College of Nigerian Pathologists, lamented that Nigeria, with a population of about 200 million, has not more than 500 pathologists working in its healthcare sector.
In a communique from the meeting signed by Dr. Kenneth Iregbu and Dr. Akeem Lawal, president and General Secretary (Acting) respectively, the pathologists said that with only about 500 pathologists, Nigeria has a ratio of one pathologist to about 400,000 persons. They said this is against the recommended standard of one pathologist to about 40,000 persons.
They argued that with the trend, Nigeria would need about 500 years to reach the pathologist-patient ratio as currently obtained in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
They, however, lamented that though the pathologists-patient ratio in Nigeria is embarrassing, the government had dilly-dallied in filling existing vacancies for pathologists in public health institutions.
The pathologists said of the outcome: “The meeting noted with sadness the fast dwindling number of residents in training, especially in pathology, due to refusal or reluctance of hospital s management to fill the numerous existing vacancies for Pathology Residency Training in almost all the accredited institutions in Nigeria with the Pathology disciplines worst affected. This has led to unimaginable frustrations in these disappointed young doctors. Nigeria has about 500 practising pathologists serving a population of about 200 million translating to a ratio of about one pathologist to 400,000 persons as against the standard of one pathologist to 20,000 persons. This ratio of pathologists to population is less than 10% of that in the United States and the United Kingdom, and estimates show that at the current rate of education and training in sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, it could take up to 500 years for the number of pathologists per 1000 population to reach that of US or UK.
“The CNP calls on the Federal Ministry of Health to as a matter of urgent national importance direct all accredited hospitals to immediately fill all vacant residency positions, especially in pathology.”
The College of Nigerian Pathologists also lamented the exodus of qualified medical personnel from the country, urging the government to put attractive measures in place to lure the medic to stay back.
It warned that the rate of the exodus of medical personnel was also endangering quality healthcare delivery in the country.
It stated: “CNP observes the high rate of emigration of doctors of all cadres to other climes for greener pastures, following frustrations of unemployment in spite of numerous vacancies, lack of necessary working tools, excess workload and exhaustion, poor and unregulated work environment, and poor professional/career fulfilment. The College further notes that the nation’s health and medical education systems are at great risk of collapse if nothing is done now. It, therefore, appeals to the government at various levels to absorb the roaming population of medical personnel into the care system to avert an imminent collapse, while at the same time providing enabling the environment to optimal productivity.”
On the issue of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model in healthcare financing, the CNP said the “seeming reluctance of hospital s management to embrace public-private partnership in running the clinical laboratories despite its adoption as a program of government approved by the National Council of Health since 2005 remains inexplicable. More so, the College regrets that despite a most widely held proof that a well-structured PPP is a reasonable way to upgrade the quality of equipment, infrastructure and quality of services in our clinical laboratories and health care generally, this program is yet to gain serious recognition and implementation. CNP calls on with government and managers of public health institutions to realistically embrace PPP as a viable option to reversing the decay in infrastructure and equipment. It further calls on the government to remove every obstacle hindering the smooth and effective implementation of PPP.”
On the Prevalence of Dubious Laboratory Results, Medical Quackery and Absence of Clinical Governance of Clinical Laboratories in Nigeria, the CNP noted: “With dismay the unacceptable prevalence of dubious clinical (medical) laboratory results/reports being handed over to unsuspecting and ignorant patients, creating in many instances a false epidemic of “malaria, typhoid, hepatitis and Staphylococcus infections.
“These contribute largely to the dismal health indices in Nigeria due to the absence of clinical governance in a majority of the clinical laboratories producing these laboratory reports both in private and public health institutions.
“CNP heartily welcomes and commends the efforts of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in addressing medical quackery. To this end, we support the stance of the NMA and the Federal Ministry of Health’s (FMoH’s) circular (Reference Number: DHS/400/T/85) dated 22nd February 2018 mandating the authentication of medical correspondences with the Doctors’ Stamp.
“CNP, therefore, resolved to direct all her members to similarly authenticate all clinical laboratory reports issued or authorized by them. In addition, CNP calls on the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) and the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) to closely monitor activities in private laboratories owned and or managed by their respective members. The CNP further resolved to assist the Federal Ministry of Health and States lacking pathologists, if any, in monitoring these facilities.”