Health workers lament dearth of surgical treatment in Nigeria

Health workers have raised concerns over the low number of surgeries performed in the country, as a result of poor surgical equipment and tools.

They spoke at a surgical equipment training for biomedical technicians and nurses from across the six geopolitical zones, organised by the National Surgical, Obstetrics, Anaesthesia and Nursing Plan (NSOANP) in collaboration with Smile Train.

Available data shows that only 166/100,000 surgeries are performed annually in Nigeria, as against the recommended volume of 5,000/100,000 per annum.

A Consultant Anaesthetics with the National Hospital Abuja, Dr. Aderonke Obisesan who disclosed that sometimes surgeries were cancelled due to the poor condition of the needed surgical tools or equipment, said the move to train biomedical technicians and other relevant health workers would help increase the rate of surgical care by reducing the waiting time for patients requiring surgical treatment

She said: “Functional equipment and surgical instruments are part of the determining factors of good outcome following a surgical procedure.

“We are in a limited resource setting, so we do not have the luxury of replacing our surgical instruments all the time. Apart from that, not all blunt surgical instruments need to be thrown away, because in developed countries where these instruments are manufactured, there is provision for point of care repairs.

“We have had cases of cancellation of surgical cases because of lack of equipment and instruments, so right now that they can repair the ones that they have, the number of surgical cases they will attend to will increase and the reasons for cancelling surgeries will no longer be because of blunt surgical instruments.

“Smile Train is generous enough to donate the basic tools and equipment they need in carrying out the repairs. So they are going back to their hospitals to set up their work benches and maintain the instruments in their hospitals thus we have a lot to benefit from this training.”

One of the trainers, a foreign Biomedical Surgical Instrument Technician, Amanuel Tewelde, noted that training would enable biomedical technicians in Nigerian hospitals to know how to manage and handle surgical equipment properly.

“The instruments we are training them on are the ones mainly used by surgeons. Surgical instruments are very expensive and based on the capacity of African countries; it’s very difficult to buy surgical instruments every time they break down. So, this training will help the hospitals to repair and renovate surgical instruments to minimise the cost.”

A Nigerian Biomedical Engineer with the National Hospital Abuja, Idris Obaidu, stressed that the importance of the training cannot be over emphasised as it has exposed them to best practices of handling equipment.


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