An anesthetist at Irrua University Specialty Hospital in Edo State, Dr. Julian Ojebo, attributed the shortage of anesthesiologists in Nigeria to long training time and low pay.
He noted that many secondary and tertiary medical institutions in the country had few or no specialists.
Ojebo described anesthesiologists as specialists who administer anesthetic (a drug that causes a temporary loss of bodily sensation) for all surgical procedures and procedures, noting that they were needed in virtually every field of medicine.
He explained that anesthesia was a specialty of medicine dealing with reversible, controllable and predictable methods of pain relief for operative surgery, with or without loss of consciousness, and could only be studied at the level postdoctoral.
“Anesthesia is a broad field that involves obstetric anesthesia, cardiothoracic anesthesia, neurosurgical anesthesia and anesthesia for labor analgesia, which is a component of obstetric anesthesia,” he said. he declares.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health has described anesthetists as those who care for patients by protecting them from any possible adverse events during anesthesia and surgery by providing the best possible pain relief. pain.
She noted that the service would allow for optimal and comfortable working conditions for the surgeons and that it was the anesthesiologist who performed the aforementioned duties on the way to safety.
Ojebo revealed that graduating doctors were not encouraged to delve into the specialty due to the long duration of training involved, which could be financially draining and time-consuming.
He said: “It takes at least five to seven years to train the average anesthesiologist around the world, before they can be board certified or fellowshipped in any country. And the training is usually at the post-graduate level.
“For Nigeria, it is currently divided into two subsets, Junior Residence and Senior Residence. The junior residency lasts three years, while the senior residency lasts three years. The minimum duration is six years.
“It’s quite stressful to follow this training. A lot of people don’t want to go through the stress because it provides services to all medical departments. »
The anesthesiologist said long-term program funding remains a challenge for the specialty, especially in low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria.
“This is a problem compared to developed countries where anesthesiology is one of the highest paying jobs,” he added.
The medical practitioner denounced the lack of awareness given the specialty at the undergraduate level, noting that the time allotted was never enough.
He said: “When I was in medical school I did an anesthetic rotation for just two weeks. Exposure of anesthesia to people in this setting is usually not very significant.
“The crux of the problem is that the training time is long and tedious. Long working hours, long calls and exposure to anesthetic gases all result in a shortage in the number of anesthesiologists worldwide.
Other factors fueling the anesthesia workforce shortage, according to reports, include medical tourism, lack of training institutions, poorly equipped medical schools, lack of operating theaters and medical equipment. anesthesia for surgical procedures.
In 2019, experts revealed that there were around 3,000 anesthesiologists providing healthcare services in Nigeria, which is relatively insufficient for the entire population of over 200 million people.
It was also noted that at the time, Nigeria had only 221 consultant anesthetists and about 660 trainee anesthetists at various stages of training.
Nigeria has an estimated ratio of one anesthesiologist per approximately 200,000 to 300,000 people against the World Health Organization’s ratio of one anesthesiologist per 10,000 patients.
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