Nurses on Friday in Abuja, have called on the Federal Government to increase funding for surgical interventions to address out-of-pocket spending experienced by many Nigerians.
The nurses made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of a 5-day “Train the Trainer” workshop.
The workshop was organised under the National Surgical, Obstetric, Anaesthesia, and Nursing Plan for Nigeria (NSOANP) in partnership with Smile Train.
The nurses said that the cost of surgical intervention in Nigeria was alarming, placing a huge financial burden on the public and forcing many to spend out-of-pocket.
This, they said, would continue to impoverish many Nigerians if the federal government fails to provide funding intervention for surgical procedures.
Mrs Olubunmi Lawal-Aiyedun, the Nursing Coordinator of NSOANP, said “ the high cost of most surgical interventions is increasing the financial burden and out-of-pocket spending for many Nigerians.
“People are getting more impoverished because surgical interventions are not affordable for them. Many health insurance plans do not cover the total cost for all surgeries.
“Addressing issues that affect the provision and access to surgical intervention is important because it is critical towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria.
According to Lawal-Aiyedun, the event was organised to create awareness on the need to improve quality and timely surgical services including reducing the financial burden of these surgeries on the people.
She said that nurses have a vital role to play in addressing these issues through improvement in quality of support during surgical interventions and providing aftercare for patients.
Lawal-Aiyedun called for more training programmes for nurses in the country saying that nurses made up the largest workforce in the sector and maintained first and last contact with patients.
“We want the federal government to do more; we want them to have a budget for the implementation of NSOANP including training for nurses.
“We appeal to the government to invest more in healthcare services from the national, state, and local level.
Dr Omolara Williams, a Pediatric Surgeon at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), reiterated the need for the federal government to implement the NSOANP plan in Nigeria.
Williams said this would ensure that the strategic priorities needed to improve the quality and access to the surgical intervention were met.
“Access to surgical intervention including preventing and controlling infection while providing this type of care is very important for the patient’s recovery and health outcome.
“Most infections acquired in hospitals occur during or after surgical intervention.
“From the federal government to healthcare professionals, we all need to work together to implement and actualise the national surgical plan as our strategic priorities for surgical care.
Mr Giwa Mome, staff at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe, called for more training for nurses working in Nigeria.
Mome said that nurse training is a vital tool to enhance their capacity in providing care, especially during surgical interventions.
He assured the training received would be stepped down to colleagues at the hospital.
“Coming here I had a lot of expectations and I want to thank God that NSOANP and Smile Train have enhanced my knowledge and capacity to effectively carry out my duties.
“I intend to step down the knowledge I received during the training,” he said.
Mrs Victoria Awase, Programme Manager, Smile Train West Africa, said that the organisation sponsored the training to empower local health professionals in Nigeria to provide better services.
“If you look at Nigeria today, we are experiencing brain drain in the health sector. Lack of training is one of the reasons health professionals are leaving for foreign countries.
“Constant training improves their knowledge as health professionals and their capacity to provide better services,” She said.
Awase called for better investment in capacity building for health workers in the country.
NAN reports that in 2019, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) set up NSOANP with a five-year strategic plan to reduce out-of-pocket spending on surgical care by increasing financing.
The plan targets a 35 per cent coverage of surgical care and a health insurance coverage rate of 50 per cent by 2023.
With a 15 per cent increase in budgetary allocation to the health sector by 2023, the federal government hopes to strengthen the healthcare system through investment in surgical care to increase productivity.
NAN also reports that while 24 nurses, four from each of the six geo-political zones of the country attended the training physically, over 900 others participated virtually.
The theme for the training was “Nursing Care Saves Lives.” (NAN)