On the eve of the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union (COMEDAF) Holding from 23 April to 27 April in Abuja, Nigeria, the Africa Health, Human and Social Development Alliance (formerly Africa Public Health Alliance) has called on African Education Ministers to prioritise the development of an African Human Resources Development Plan as a pre requisite to meeting Africa’s development goals.
In a statement by the organisation, its coordinator, Mr Rotimi Sankore, stated that “While universal free, or affordable education is a development goal in its own right, the education sector also has a special role in developing the human resources that are a pre-requisite for meeting all of Africa’s overall development goals.”
Elaborating further he added that “The summary comparative analysis released this week illustrates that in virtually every key sector of the economy and society, most African countries are operating at between 25 percent to 75 percent of the required human resources capacity. In the health sector for instance giving Nigeria as an example, Nigeria has only about 25 percent of the doctors it needs for a population of over 150 million people, about 45 percent of nurses and midwives, and about 12 percent of pharmacists.
Compared to countries of broadly equivalent population, Nigeria has only 55,376 doctors compared to 264,515 in Japan with a population of 127.1 million and 614,183 doctors in Russia with a population of 140.8 million.
In other words all other factors given, Nigeria requires an additional number of a minimum 240,000 doctors to attain similar health access as Japan.
For nurses and midwives, Nigeria has roughly 224,943 compared to 531,210 in Japan and 1.2 million in Russia: and for pharmacists the numbers are 18,682 in Nigeria compared to 174,890 in Japan.
The health sector is a good example of Human Resource gaps because unlike many other matters in life, you cannot postpone health. Consequently Nigeria average life expectancy is a mere 54 years compared to 83 years in Japan, as evidenced by over a million women and children lost to Maternal and Child Health issues alone annually.
With similar or worse gaps in various areas such as the engineering fields, it’s no surprise that many African countries are lagging behind in overall human and social development.
“Along side this of course is the crucial matter of poor investment in health, human and social development issues. Nigeria for instance along with 32 other African countries invests well below than the recommended $40 per capita minimum in health, compared to Japan at $2,568, or even $642 in Cuba and $413 in Costa Rica to mention countries closer to Nigeria’s development level but still with better health outcomes.”
Nevertheless, if we suddenly had all the financial resources required tomorrow morning, we would well find that most African countries do not have the human resources capacity to effectively absorb and utilise the financial investment.
No entrepreneur will ever purchase a 100 airplanes for an airline, and then employ only 25 pilots and expect the other 75 planes to fly. Yet this is the scenario in most African countries, where there is a strange expectation that we can meet the Millennium Development Goals and other development targets without the pre requisite Human Resources and Infrastructure.
It is therefore imperative that Africa’s education ministers prioritise in each country and regionally, the development of a Human Resources Development Plan that identifies what level of human resources are required for each sector, what is currently available, and what needs to be done to fill the gaps in the shortest possible time.
Download: Africa Health, Human and Social Development Information Service (Afri-Dev.Info) Releases Comparative Analysis Demonstrating Human Resources & Education Gap in 20 Countries Globally most Affected by Maternal and Child Health – All are African Countries Except Two. Click link to download: Human Resources & Education Comparative Gaps in Health & MNCH