Pathologists Lament Personnel Shortage In Nigeria’s Healthcare Sector


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 (CNP), lamented that Nigeria, with a population of about 200million, 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.

The Communique reads in part: “The meeting noted with sadness the fast dwindling number of residents in training, especially in pathology, due to refusal or reluctance of hospitals 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.

Alarmed that the exodus of medical personnel was also endangering quality healthcare delivery in the country, the “CNP appealled 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”.

The body called for a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model in healthcare financing and urged hospital managements to adopt the programme as approved by the National Council of Health since 2005.

The CNP commended the efforts of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in addressing medical quackery and directed all her members to similarly authenticate all clinical laboratory reports issued or authorized by them as a way of checking the prevalence of dubious laboratory results.