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Nigeria Requires 400,000 Healthcare Workers to address growing needs, says Health Minister

Nigeria is facing a substantial deficit of healthcare professionals, requiring an additional 400,000 workers to meet the nation’s growing healthcare demands, according to the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate.

Prof. Pate made this revelation during a press briefing in Abuja on Saturday, following a comprehensive three-day briefing session with various departments and agencies under the health ministry. The shortage, he explained, encompasses various critical roles within the healthcare sector, including community health workers, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, physicians, laboratory scientists, technicians, and auxiliary staff.

The minister highlighted that the current healthcare workforce falls significantly short of serving Nigeria’s population of approximately 220 million people, with the doctor-to-population ratio in the country falling below the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to Prof. Pate, the global shortage of healthcare personnel is a pressing concern. Even in developed countries grappling with an aging workforce, retirements are creating gaps that need to be filled by new professionals.

In a bid to reduce medical tourism, Prof. Pate acknowledged the prevalence of this trend in both developed and developing nations, where people often seek more affordable surgical procedures abroad. He emphasized the importance of utilizing public financing to develop healthcare infrastructure and human resources, thereby retaining resources that would otherwise be spent overseas.

The minister outlined plans to unlock the healthcare value chain, attracting private capital for investment in physical infrastructure and human resources. This approach aims to provide a wide range of medical services within Nigeria, reducing the need for citizens to seek treatment abroad.

“We’re exploring models where we expand the value chain, making it more sustainable and less dependent on public funds,” Prof. Pate explained. “By doing so, we can keep medical dollars within our borders and create jobs locally.”

Assuring the public, Prof. Pate revealed that the Federal Government intends to leverage human capital, private sector investments, and innovation to enhance healthcare services available within the country.

Regarding financing from development partners, the minister reported that discussions have already commenced with these partners to guide them on Nigeria’s specific healthcare needs. While the majority of the health budget in Nigeria is allocated by the government at different levels, development partners play a crucial supplementary role in advancing the nation’s healthcare objectives.

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