No fewer that 2000 medical workers leave Nigeria annually in search of greener pastures overseas, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), said Thursday.
Unfortunately, such workers relocate to developed countries, according to NMA President, Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, who spoke at the opening of the Annual General Conference/Delegates meeting of the Association in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
He that the worrisome trend informed the theme of the meeting which is “Skill repatriation in the health sector: Turning Nigeria’s brain drain to brain gain”.
Dr. Faduyile said: “We believe that this ugly situation can be turned to an advantage hence the need to bring this to the front burner for discussion and proffer a way out to the country’s advantage.”
The NMA boss also said that politicians in the country do not seem to be worried at the trend because they do not to have the necessary statistics and facts on the matter.
He said: “Without intent at generating further controversy on the matters arising from the unfortunate remark by a senior cabinet member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who incidentally, or coincidentally, doubles as a senior member of the medical profession, it is our firm believe that this gathering would generate further affirmatory statistics and facts that possibly would be enough in convincing those policy makers at critical MDAs of government at all levels.
“Such MDAs, including the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, who perhaps, are yet to come to reality with the scientifically unambiguous deleterious aftermath of the worsening disparity between the health workforce in general and the population they are serving vis-à-vis the alarming rate of the emigration of these health/medical professionals on health outcomes as reflected by the various morbidity and mortality data. Then, they can join us in the clarion call for action and be committed to instituting necessary actions.”
Health Minister Prof Isaac Adewole also expressed worry at the increasing rate of brain drain in the country’s medical sector.
Represented by the Chief Medical Director of Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, Dr. Emeka Onwe, the minister said the Federal Government is working hard to end the mass exodus of medical workers from the country.
He said: “I am not particularly happy with the latest trend of doctors leaving the country to other lands for greener pastures. We shall continue to ensure the welfare of the health workforce is improved. Our effort at centralising the internship posting of newly graduated doctors had received the support of FEC and would be rolled out within the year.
Prof Adewole said the government has instituted a diaspora programme geared towards engaging doctors who have acquired latest skills and knowledge that will help transform the health sector.
“The ministry will continue to improve on these activities to encourage the diasporans to make increased contribution to our healthcare delivery”, he said.
The minister also expressed concern at the inability of several state governments’ inability to recruit and keep medical doctors including specialists in their secondary and tertiary care hospitals.
Prof Adewole said: “In many cases most local governments’ health facilities do not have a doctor. These are unrelated to poor welfare and remuneration package at various levels amongst other factors.”
Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi, who declared the conference open, promised to continue supporting the doctors and other health care practitioners in the state.
He said his administration will commence the construction of a new Teaching Hospital in June for the State University’s medical school in Uburu.