The 46th Annual General and Scientific Meeting (AGSM) of the West African College of Physicians (Nigeria Chapter) was held at the Amadeo Event Centre, Enugu. Enugu State from 26th to 30th July 2022. The theme of the conference was "Building a Resilient Health System: Addressing the impact of emerging and re-emerging pandemics".
The subthemes were:
1. Emerging health challenges in fragile, violent and conflict areas
2. Vaccine hesitancy and universal health coverage: addressing the impact
3. Medical brain drain in Nigeria: halting and reversing the trend.
The meeting was declared open by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, he also launched the West African College of Physicians (Nigeria Chapter) Strategic Plan, 2021-2025. Other dignitaries that graced the occasion included the Secretary General of the West African College of Physicians. Dr. Albert Akpalu, also representing the President of the College, Dr. Durodami Lisk: the College Treasurer, Dr. Enobong Ikpeme; the President of Nigeria Medical Association, represented by Professor Cajethan Onyedum; the Honorable Commissioner for Health, Enugu State, represented by Dr. Godwin Chukwu; the Medical Director, Federal Neuropsychiatry Hospital Enugu, Dr. Monday Igwe and the Chief Medical Director of University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozalla, Prof. Obinna Onodugo.
The conference received goodwill messages from the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Ituku-Ozalla, Prof. Obinna Onodugo, the representative of the Honorable Commissioner for Health, Enugu State and Breakthrough Action Nigeria Project.
The Chapter conducted a free medical outreach program at the Enugu Correctional Centre in collaboration with the Carmelite Prisoners Interest Organization (CAPIO) on the 23rd July 2022 where over 200 male and female inmates received treatment for various ailments. Over 40 of them were also screened for HIV. Hepatits B and C and other conditions.
The conference witnessed a large turn-out with over four hundred participants from various Institutions in Nigeria and the diaspora, about two hundred and seventy of whom participated physically.
The academic activities of the meeting included the 18th Sir Samuel Manuwa Lecture titled "Pandemics and Wholesome Well-being" delivered by Dr. Taiwo Lateef Sheikh on behalf of the Faculty of Psychiatry. The plenary sessions focused on: "harnessing the power of communication and innovation for a resilient health system. role of effective communication in improving health literacy to combat vaccine hesitancy and task shifting and task sharing as an approach to building a resilient health system". The Faculty of Community Health mounted the Faculty Symposium, which focused on "Career without boundaries, expanding our frontiers as physicians". There were six scientific sessions during which over sixty high quality scientific papers on health issues relevant to the theme and subthemes of the conference were presented from across Africa, Europe, Australia and United States of America.
The conference made the following observations;
- Pandemics increase physical and mental health disorders and also negatively impact on the wholesome wellbeing of the population, more especially among frontline healthcare workers.
- Public health emergencies have strained our already frail healthcare system.
- Despite the huge burden of mental health disorders in Nigeria, it is still grossly neglected and not adequately addressed.
- In Nigeria, negative perception, misinformation and disinformation are major factors responsible for vaccine hesitancy and rejection.
- Innovations in clinical medicine practice such as telemedicine and targeted molecular precision therapy despite being central to building resilient health system are grossly inadequate in Nigeria.
- The brain drain phenomenon among healthcare workers, particularly medical doctors has assumed an alarming proportion and has negatively impacted on quality healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
- Emergency preparedness and surveillance activities need to be strengthened across the country and frontline healthcare workers should be adequately protected and motivated.
- Policy, strategic plans and legislative framework for mental health services should be put in place in Nigeria as a matter of urgency in order to promote the wholesome well-being of the citizens. prevent mental health disorders and, provide effective and accessible interventions.
- Public health enlightenment and risk communication activities targeting vaccine preventable diseases should be strengthened. Go to Settings to activate
- The curriculum for undergraduate and postgraduate medical training in Nigeria should be reviewed to reflect advances in medicine and medical technology.
- The Measures to retain and adequately reward healthcare professionals especially medical doctors should be ramped up as a matter of urgency.
The West African College of Physicians (Nigeria Chapter) is ready to partner with the Federal Government and other relevant stakeholders to seek ways and means of achieving the above recommendations through advocacy, technical assistance and capacity building.
Dr Aboi Madaki
Chapter Chairman and National Vice President
Dr Taiwo Lateef Sheikh