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How to stem exodus of doctors, by stakeholders

…Say if unchecked, brain drain will lead to collapse of Nigeria’s health sector

…Nigeria should identify, discourage what fuels brain drain

Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja

Outrage has continued to trail the statement by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) that about 2,000 medical workers leave Nigeria annually to other developed countries of the world.

To put an end to ‘brain drain’ in the health sector, the Nigerian government was advised to provide more funds, emoluments and incentives for medical practitioners.

Reacting to the development during a telephone interview with The Daily Times on Friday, stakeholders in the nation’s health sector said the country should identify and discourage what fuels brain drain in Nigeria.

According to Dr. Charles Nwachkwu, things like nepotism, tribalism and quota system is unarguable key factors that Nigeria needs to address.

‘’Most of these high skilled workers migrate to western countries out of frustration. Many, in spite of their qualifications, yet couldn’t find a job suitable to them.

‘’Though, many factors may be attributed to this, nevertheless it boils down to one thing; here we don’t appreciate meritocracy rather mediocre is treasured. Things like ‘he is not from this tribe, we are not in the same political party, he is a Christian’, Nwachukwu said.

On his part, Pharmacist Osayamen Olaye, who lamented the high rate of brain drain in Nigeria, said that until the issue of incentive given to medical personnel is improved upon, they will be left with no other alternative but to migrate to other countries where they pay higher.

“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.”

Olaye warned that if brain drain continues unchecked, it will lead to the collapse of the nation’s health sector.

Also, Mr. Mayowa Joel, of Communication for Development Centre Nigeria, said: ‘’There are many things that we need to do as a country to reduce this brain drain.

We need to look at the welfare for medical doctors and all health professionals as well because it’s not just about medical doctors but all other health professionals.

‘’We need to look at incentive package, remuneration because the question we need to ask ourselves is, why are they leaving?

Why are medical doctors, health professionals going abroad? Except we are deceiving ourselves, the major reason is the incentives.

‘’In addition to that we need to begin to look for opportunity for career development. Medical felid is a highly professional field.

If government and stakeholders will be able to provide opportunities for development, they will be comfortable to stay back and work’’, he added.

The Daily Times recalls that the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) disclosed on Thursday that about 2,000 medical workers leave Nigeria, annually, to other developed countries of the world.

This was disclosed by the President of the NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile, during the opening ceremony of the 59th annual general conference/delegates meeting of the association in Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi State, with the theme: Skill repatriation in the health sector: Turning Nigeria’s brain drain to brain gain.

He 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.”

Dr. Faduyile lamented that the ugly situation has not augured well for the country and regretted that some policy makers do not seem to be interested in ameliorating the situation because they do not to have the necessary statistics and facts on the matter.

“Without intent at generating further controversy on the matters arising from the unfortunate remark by a senior cabinet member of the Federal Government, 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 ministries, departments and agencies of government at all levels,

including the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, which, 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,” Faduyile added.