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Friday, May 20, 2022

Expert decries lack of job opportunities for physiotherapists in Nigeria

Angela Onwuzoo

A Senior Lecturer, Department of Physiotherapy, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Dr. Chris Okafor, has decried the lack of job opportunities for physiotherapists in the country.

According to Okafor, while some general hospitals don’t have a single physiotherapist, some tertiary facilities have only a few.

The absence of the required number of physiotherapists in Nigerian hospitals, he said, is exposing patients who need physical therapy to quacks.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an interview, Dr. Okafor, who is a physiotherapist noted that certain health conditions are exclusively managed by physiotherapists.

He stressed that physiotherapists should be accorded their rightful position as stakeholders in the health sector in Nigeria, noting that they contribute their quota to managing certain health conditions.  

Dr. Okafor who is also the President, Association of Clinical and Academic Physiotherapists of Nigeria identified the shortage of jobs, lack of equipment, brain drain, poor remuneration and working conditions as challenges confronting the physiotherapy profession in Nigeria.

He said, “There is the inadequacy of jobs for physiotherapists. For example, in a teaching hospital that is supposed to employ 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 resulting in quackery in the system, this lack exposes patients to quacks and also leads to the mismanagement of their health conditions.”

According to him, there are certain health conditions that physiotherapists have exclusive care for.

“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,” he noted.

Dr. Okafor stated that physiotherapists also play a critical role in managing people who recovered from COVID-19.

He maintained that healthcare cannot be complete without the contributions of physiotherapists.

According to National Health Service, United Kingdom, physiotherapy helps to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness, or disability.

“Physiotherapy can be helpful for people of all ages with a wide range of health conditions, including problems affecting the bones, joints and soft tissue – such as back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and sports injuries. 

“It can also help to reduce the risk of injury or illness in the future.

“It takes a holistic approach that involves the patient directly in their own care.

“Physiotherapists often work as part of a multidisciplinary team in various areas of medicine and settings, including hospitals, community health centres and clinics,” NHS said.

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