NURSES SHORTAGE IN NIGERIA
Nurses and Midwives account for nearly 50% of the global health workforce” (WHO-2020). In this you will read on Shortage of nurses and Midwives and suggested way forward
The WHO stated that nurses and midwives represent more than 50% of the current shortage in health workers, with Africa and South East Asia having the largest shortages of nurses and midwives
“For all countries to reach Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health and well-being, WHO estimates that the world will need an additional 9 million nurses and midwives by the year 2030.”
This is a global issue of concern that is affecting Nigeria as well. It is estimated that by 2030 there will be about 83,548-137,859 shortage of nurses in Nigeria which is about an average of 27.68 percent gap with the increasing population if no effort is made to increase the current supply.
This deficit is a heavy burden on the healthcare system hurting the overall health situation in Nigeria.
Therefore measures need to be taken to reduce these inadequacies, thereby bridging the gap between healthcare workers and patients to achieve effective healthcare delivery.
Factors Contributing To Nurses Shortage In Nigeria
These are some of the factors contributing to the nurses shortage in Nigeria;
Mass Migration Of Nurses
In recent years, there has been an abrupt increase in the migration of Nurses in search of greener pastures from Nigeria to developed countries. This constitutes a huge brain drain to the nursing workforce leading to inequitable distribution of healthcare workers.
The working schedule of nurses in Nigeria is highly demanding with the current deficit playing a significant role in it. The number of leaves or off-days nurses get is less compared to the number of days spent at work, sometimes they also find themselves on duty even on their leave or off-days which places great stress on them and in turn affects their productivity and mental health.
This factor largely contributes to the current brain drain in the country as the pay scale made available is meager compared to the workload in hospitals and the number of money nurses spent to bag their qualifications, register, and work in the country is a huge investment with little return.
Another contributing factor is the fact that the available pay scale is not regulated for nurses all over the country, the situation is even worse in some private hospitals where a nurse can be paid as low as 30,000 NGN, this alone can be frustrating, so they often look for other alternatives where they can be paid more and their efforts appreciated by putting their interests into consideration.
There are hardly packages that catered to the welfare of nurses in the country, while their counterparts in other countries enjoy different benefits as a nurse such as healthcare insurance, retirement plans, bonuses, allowances, transportation, accommodation, daycare for kids, and so on, there is barely anything to look forward to other than the small salaries they earn.
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While those that work in government institutions are entitled to some bonuses and allowances, they might at times not get it or it may take years before it is being paid even though it is included in their employment contract.
With the recent trends of technology invasion, the healthcare system is seeing, these changes are hardly effected in the healthcare system in Nigeria. Professionals in some facilities still practice using the conventional method and outdated equipment that have long been disposed of by their counterparts in other developed countries, a vivid example of this is paper documentation which has long been replaced by electronic health records.
Some work environments have become old and have hardly seen any renovation in years which again affects the efficiency of work delivered in the wards.
There is a rapid rise in quackery practice in Nigeria which is an enormous impediment to the nursing profession, nurses are almost getting displaced by these so-called quacks because they accept lesser pay than a professional nurse will accept, the rapid rise of quackery in nursing has implicated the integrity and reputation of Nurses in the country and their significance amongst other healthcare professionals.
IMPACT ON HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE
These shortages have caused a setback to the growth of the nursing profession and lapses to the health system of the nation.
The nurses available can not meet the healthcare demand which again affects the level of wellness of the whole population
There are also heightened burnouts among nurses and job dissatisfaction due to increased workload and reduced nurse-to-patient ratio.
Increased mortality rate as there are insufficient professionals to provide prompt and rapid intervention to patients in emergencies.
Economic impact as the migration boosts the economy of the country being migrated to and causes a drain to the economy of the emigrant country
THE WAY FORWARD
Intensify the training and recruitment of practitioners in the field within the country so that the increased demand can be met.
Construction of more training institutions to cater to the training of these professionals to boost their supply.
Improved remuneration and welfare packages such as regulated pay scale, increased salaries, healthcare insurance, bonuses, allowances, and so on for the nurses to improve the rate of staff retention thereby reducing the incidence of huge turnover happening due to poor remuneration.
Provision of updated and standard equipment in workplaces to boost productivity and work efficiency thereby leading to job satisfaction.
Subsidized tuition for the training of nurses who can not afford the cost of nursing education in the country, thereby increasing the supply of nurses to the workforce.
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The involvement of key stakeholders in policy formulation towards better healthcare budgeting and increased levels of investment in healthcare can go a long way in mitigating the impact of the nursing shortage on the healthcare system.
The health of a nation solely depends on its healthcare professionals, as they contribute largely to the well-being of the country.
hence, the huge turnover of Nurses happening within the healthcare sector is a great issue of concern that needs prompt intervention before more harm is done than good.
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Mayowa Racheal Popoola