Dr Innocent Ikpe, a general physician with Maitama District Hospital, FCT, has urged the Federal Government to employ more doctors to tackle emerging health issues in primary healthcare delivery.
Ikpe told Journalists on Thursday, in Abuja, that Nigeria currently had a dearth of doctors which fell below the acceptable ratio of one doctor to 600 patients.
Journalists report that Nigeria currently has a ratio of one doctor to 6,000 patients, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The physician, however, said even the few doctors in government employment were over-worked, on call for more than 32 hours; as well as poorly remunerated.
“The dearth of working tools and modern medical equipment in most hospitals has assumed an alarming rate.
“The maximum number of hours we work is generally close to 32 hours when on calls.
“The more the few doctors are stressed and overworked, the more they are bound to make more mistakes,’’ he said.
He said working for more than the required hours without rest or leisure was not good for the overall health and well-being of caregivers; as such could lead to frustration and poor service delivery.
“There are so many doctors on the streets looking for government jobs to garner experience; both federal and state governments should employ more doctors.
“Professional caregivers like doctors should not be looking for jobs, there should be a policy put in place to engage them once they are fully qualified to practice.
“Our population is growing close to 200 million and the doctors and facilities in hospitals should be upgraded.
“I believe when more hands are employed, it will reduce the number of hours we, doctors, work in the hospital and also reduce stress,’’ he said.
He appealed to both the federal and state governments to pay adequate attention to the welfare of doctors and the adequate provision of health facilities to reduce medical tourism.
“You can imagine how much foreign exchange Nigeria loses because of medical tourism to places like India and Europe, it runs into billions of dollars.
“We hear what so many Nigerians go through when seeking medical attention outside the country.
“If our doctors are encouraged and well remunerated, we can take over the challenge,’’ he noted.