The massive brain drain in the Nigerian health sector in recent years which has seen many medical doctors, nurses and midwives among other health professionals leaving the country has heightened the need for urgent steps to be taken to halt the trend in order to save the sector from total collapse.
Many Nigerian doctors and other health professionals have been migrating to U.S, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the UK and many other nations across the globe of recent without government turning blind eye to the trend.
Among factors identified as being responsible for internal and external brain drain in the sector include poor incentive and motivation.
According to experts, the movement of skilled workers internationally represents ‘brain gain’ for the countries that reap their skills and experience and ‘brain drain’ for their countries of origin.
The experts have advised that the Nigerian government should emulate the concept used by India to bring back their medical professionals who migrated to other countries.
India was able to conquer brain drain because they offered an interest free loan to all their medical professionals abroad. The loan was for them to establish whatever facility of their dream in their country. The (Indian) government also provided incentives and conducive working condition and their doctors came home.
Today, India has joined the list of countries in brain gain. They make a whole lot of money in medical tourism.
To put an end to ‘brain drain’ in the health sector therefore, the Nigerian government should provide more funds, emoluments and incentives for medical practitioners. This is in addition to providing conducive environment for the health professionals to operate.
This is because if the brain drain continues unchecked, it will lead to the collapse of the nation’s health sector.
This exodus is continuously increasing. The country produces 1600 doctors every year and 1200 are leaving the country. With the number of doctors getting old and retiring, there is no replacement which is a big problem that might lead to collapse of the Nigerian health system if not tackled.
Most doctors move from places such as Borno to the FCT, where they consider a more conducive environment. This is internal brain drain which should also be checked.
While brain gain represents migration of intellectuals from other countries, the return of Nigerian doctors practicing abroad should be considered a brain gain for the country.
More attention should rather be paid on curbing the trend of health experts leaving the country.
We are also of the opinion that to halt the brain drain in the Health sector, doctors in particular should go into private practice and partnerships because when medical profession is practiced as a private business, it is most likely to be managed with utmost attention.
Medical professionals should also consider going into politics so as to influence policies that affect them such as raising funds, incentives and good working conditions.