An Evaluation of Continuing Professional Education for Health Care Providers in Lagos State

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The appearance of new diseases, changing lifestyles and dietary habits, rapid urban growth, often resulting in poor sanitation, new treatments as well as innovative technology have all made it very necessary for constant training and retraining, especially in the health care industry, in order to keep abreast with the new developments and to update and upgrade knowledge. One way of achieving this is through Continuing Professional Education (CPE), which may also often be necessary for re-licensure. The National Health Encyclopaedia of Nigeria (2000) had observed that the Nigerian health sector is in bad shape because of the economy. It is little wonder then that the 2000 World Health Organisation report on the performance of the health care system ranked Nigeria 187 out of 191. The Guardian adds that the Primary Health Care Industry has collapsed with most facilities in various states of disrepair, obsolescence or totally absent (Nigerian Muse, 2008). This situation has been partially blamed on the negligence of the government in maintaining the existing infrastructure and a sustainable health care system. Underlying all these is the gradual erosion of the degree of confidence resided in health care providers. The Nigerian situation is further exacerbated by local issues like the lack of constant electrical power supply, little or no equipment to work with in several cases as well as archaic facilities, among other problems. This means that the typical health care professional may have to be very resourceful and ready to work under harsh conditions--it therefore helps if their training is constantly updated and technology is incorporated. For all these reasons and more, it is necessary for anyone in the medical field to be up-to-date with new information and innovative technology through constant training. There is no doubt that they must all have had initial qualifications for entry into the industry, but how are they currently maintaining and upgrading their knowledge in the face of a dynamic health industry?

According to Articlesbase.com (2011), it is necessary to regularly update one's knowledge to be able to tackle any emergency situation. This is imperative, not only to be able to stay afloat, but also medical professionals must learn new procedures and techniques (hopefully without having to leave work) so as not to leave a gap in the already overextended service situation. Furthermore, Carl Lindsay, James Morrison and James Kelley (cited in McPartland, 2011), observed that knowledge and techniques in the health industry are rapidly expanding, to the extent that it is estimated that the relevance of knowledge acquired in medical school is approximately five years before obsolescence. It is therefore vital that health professionals constantly update their skills and currency as their patient's lives depend on this. Nigerian health practitioners are eminently qualified with the statutory entry level degrees, but it is their continued competence that is in question in the face of new diseases and innovative technology in health care.

Nigeria's health care delivery system consists of a network of Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary facilities. Unfortunately, the lack of proper facilities in the health delivery points has spurred the development of privately owned hospitals to care for those who can afford it. Another serious problem is posed by the migration of health care personnel to other countries. According to Adebowale (2007), over 21,000 Nigerian doctors work in the USA alone, for example. Furthermore, a group of medical doctors have decried the rate at which Nigerians seek medical attention abroad; a development they see as gradually killing the country's health sector and demoralizing the health practitioners in the country (Leo, 2011). They noted that the huge amounts spent abroad, if pumped into the local health care system can help stem the collapse of the health sector. …