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Health News of Monday, 27 September 2021


Despite high cases of cardiovascular diseases, Nigeria has only 500 cardiologists - Report

File photo to illustrate the story File photo to illustrate the story

Nigeria currently has about 500 cardiologists to cater for the medical needs of her teeming population, estimated to be over 200 million.

This is a far cry from the number of cardiologists that should serve the population, as experts say the number is insufficient, compared to what obtains in even other Africa countries.

A cardiologist is a medical doctor who specialises in treating diseases of the cardiovascular system, mainly the heart and blood vessels.

President of the Nigerian Cardiac Society, Dr. Okechukwu Ogah, urged the Nigerian government to address the problem of brain drain in the health sector.

He said if brain drain is reduced drastically in the health sector, medical doctors will be encouraged to practice in the country.

“If we say that Nigeria has about 500 cardiologists and we know they are migrating every year and we have about 200 million population, it means we need to work on encouraging the doctors to stay back to work in our country.

The number of people migrating to other countries to practice is huge. For instance, if we say we have one cardiologist to over 40,000 Nigerians, then the doctors will be overstretched and that is killing,” Ogah told PUNCH HealthWise.

According to the 2018 WHO country profile, non-communicable diseases accounted for an estimated 29 per cent of all deaths in Nigeria, with cardiovascular diseases as the primary cause of NCD-related deaths (11 percent), followed by cancers (four per cent), chronic respiratory diseases (two per cent) and diabetes (one per cent).

Also speaking, the Assistant Secretary-General of the NCS, Prof. Chizindu Alikor, said despite the inadequate number of cardiologists in the country, many of them are migrating to other countries.

“Averagely, Nigeria produces only about 20 cardiologists yearly but we are losing a good number of them because they are migrating to other countries.

“Even those practising are largely concentrated in the big cities and if you go to the rural places, you probably will not have any cardiologist.

“The brain drain is massive,” he lamented.

To increase the number of cardiologists in the country, Alikor said the specialists must be encouraged through the provision of adequate facilities to work with, a conducive environment, and good remuneration.

“In the country, we have one cardiologist to 400,000 Nigerians. Generally, we have about one doctor to 6,000 patients and it gets worse when you talk about the specialised groups.

“The situation is worse than what they have in South Africa. In South Africa, their population is about 60 million and they have about 500 cardiologists.

“This means that they have one cardiologist to about 200 South Africans. So, African countries are not doing well and Nigeria is worse.

“Brain drain is making the matter worse and we call on the government to address issues responsible for the massive brain drain,” he said.

Alikor added that cardiovascular disease is on the rise in the country and there is a need for more cardiologists to attend to the worsening situation.

Also speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the Secretary-General of Nigerian Cardiac Society, Prof. Augustine Odili, stated that the association collaborates with Nigerians who are cardiologists in other countries.

“Many of our members are outside the country, but one important point is that many Nigerian cardiologists participate actively in our programmes.

“Part of what we have done in the last one year is to have a close collaboration with Nigerians who are cardiologists abroad and we share knowledge through telemedicine,” Odili said.

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