An assessment of the eye care workforce in Enugu State, south-eastern Nigeria

Type Journal Article - Human resources for health
Title An assessment of the eye care workforce in Enugu State, south-eastern Nigeria
Volume 7
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
Page numbers 38
The availability and distribution of an appropriate eye care workforce are fundamental to reaching the goals of "VISION 2020: The right to sight", the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness launched jointly by the World Health Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness with an international membership of nongovernmental organizations, professional associations, eye care institutions and corporations. Periodic evaluation of these parameters is important in the journey towards achieving these goals. The objectives of the study were to determine the availability and distribution of human resources for eye care delivery in Enugu Urban, south-eastern Nigeria.

The study was designed as a cross-sectional descriptive survey, the setting for which was all public and privately owned eye care facilities in Enugu Urban, Enugu State, south-eastern Nigeria, in October 2006. The health map of Enugu Urban and the hospital register of the Public Health Department of the Enugu State Ministry of Health were used to identify the eye health care facilities in Enugu Urban. A structured, pretested, researcher-administered questionnaire was used to capture data on cadre and distribution of the eye care personnel in these facilities.

Relevant population data were obtained from the Enugu Regional Office of the National Population Commission. Descriptive statistical analysis was used to generate percentages and proportions. Eye care personnel-to-population ratios were calculated and compared to World Health Organization recommendations.

Out of Enugu State's population of three million, Enugu Urban accounts for 22%. The population of Enugu Urban is distributed between the three-component Local Government Areas comprising Enugu North (31%), Enugu South (30%) and Enugu East (39%). There are 45 eye care facilities (public: 31 (69%); private: 14 (31%)) employing 252 eye care workers (public: 226 (90%); private: 26 (10%)) aged 18 to 63 (mean = 36.1 years, SD = 2 years) comprising males (36: 14%) and females (216: 86%), giving a male-to-female sex ratio of 1:6. The available eye care workforce is unevenly distributed between Enugu North (128: 51%), Enugu South (65: 26%) and Enugu East (59: 23%) Local Government Areas.

Using broad and crude World Health Organization standards for minimum provider-to-population ratios, there is a sufficient eye care workforce in Enugu Urban. However, the maldistribution of the workforce creates a major barrier to uptake of eye care services. Policy modifications could reverse this maldistribution.

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