Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
About 2,000 medical workers leave Nigeria, annually, to other developed countries of the world. This was disclosed by the national leadership of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA).
NMA President, Dr. Francis Faduyile, made the disclosure 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.
Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, on his part, expressed worry at the increasing rate of brain drain in the country’s medical sector.
The minister, represented by the Chief Medical Director of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, Dr. Emeka Onwe, said the federal government is making efforts to end the ugly trend.
Adewole 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 efforts at centralising the internship posting of newly-graduated doctors has received the support of the Federal Executive Committee and would be rolled out within the year.”
Prof Adewole also said the federal government has instituted a Diaspora Programme, which is geared towards engaging doctors who have acquired latest skills and knowledge that would help transform the health sector.
He said: “The ministry will continue to improve on these activities to encourage the Diasporas to make increased contribution to our healthcare delivery”, he said.
Last week, Ngige said Nigerians need not worry about doctors leaving the country for greener pastures.
He spoke on a Lagos-based national television station programme, where he reiterated that Nigeria can afford to export doctors abroad because the country has more than enough to fill the vacuum created.
Asked if he was concerned about the exodus, Ngige replied: “No, I’m not concerned at all, I’m not worried. We have surplus. If you have surplus, you export.”