Physiotherapists decry non-inclusion in FG’s newly established Health Reform Committee


Physiotherapists in the country under the aegis of the Association of Clinical and Academic Physiotherapists of Nigeria have decried the non-inclusion of their members in the newly established Health Sector Reform Committee by the Federal Government.

The physiotherapists said that besides contributing their quota to the nation’s health sector, some certain health conditions are exclusively managed by them, noting that their exclusion from and the committee was wrong. 

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) had on Monday approved the establishment of a Health Sector Reform Committee to kick-start the development and implementation of a Health Sector Reform programme for Nigeria.

The committee is to work with the state governments and the Federal Capital Territory Administration.

The president also appointed Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as chairman of the committee which is made up of representatives from different professional groups in the health sector as well as the state governors.

However, speaking with PUNCH HealthWise on this year’s commemoration of World Physiotherapy Day, President, Association of Clinical and Academic Physiotherapists of Nigeria, Dr. Chris Okafor expressed the displeasure over the non-inclusion of his colleagues in the committee.

Okafor said his colleagues are particularly disturbed by the non-inclusion because members of other healthcare groups in the health sector are represented. 

According to him, President, Nigerian Medical Association and President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria;

President, National Association of Nigeria Nurses & Midwives; President, Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, among others are all members of the Health Reform Committee.

Okafor who is a Senior Lecturer, Department of Physiotherapy, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, said, “We have presidents and members of the various professional groups in the health sector represented in the committee. 

“But we did not hear any membership from the association of physiotherapists or a single physiotherapist as a member of the committee.

“We frown at this non-inclusion of physiotherapists in matters that concern them. 

“Physiotherapists are stakeholders in the health sector in Nigeria because they contribute their quota in managing certain health conditions.  

“There are certain health conditions that physiotherapists have exclusive care for.”

Continuing, the physiotherapist noted, “When you talk about stroke, pain, low back pain, children who are born with deformities, pregnancy-induced back pain, physiotherapists are the ones who manage them. 

“You have physiotherapists who manage sports injuries, there are also physiotherapists that are into neurology.”

Speaking on this year’s theme titled, ‘Long COVID and Rehabilitation’, Okafor said physiotherapists play a critical role in managing people who have recovered from COVID-19.

According to him, healthcare cannot be complete without the contributions of physiotherapists.

He identified the shortage of jobs, lack of equipment, brain drain, poor remuneration and working conditions as challenges confronting the physiotherapy practice in Nigeria.

“There is the inadequacy of jobs for physiotherapists. For example, in a teaching hospital that is supposed to have the employment of 100 physiotherapists, some of them just have about five physiotherapists. Some have 10 while some don’t even have up to that. 

“Also, in general hospitals which are supposed to have up to 50 physiotherapists, they only have about two or three. 

“There are even some general hospitals in the country that do not have a single physiotherapist. Besides causing quackery in the system, this lack of physiotherapy experts exposes patients to quacks and also leads to the mismanagement of their conditions”, he said.

World Physiotherapy Day is celebrated globally on 8 September every year. 

The day provides an opportunity for physiotherapists from all over the world to raise awareness about the crucial contribution their profession makes to keeping people well, mobile and independent.

– The PUNCH

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