By Vivian Onyebukwa
Health expert, Dr. Yetunde Oyalowo, has urged the Nigerian government to improve the wellbeing of medical doctors in the country to avoid further brain drain. She stated this at an event she organized, tagged “Impact luncheon”, in appreciation and celebration of their milestone in impacting lives and communities they have gone to. It was also to celebrate their partnership and people that have supported them to be able to achieve this feat.
According to Oyalowo, doctors in Nigeria are not well compensated compared to the rigours they go through to become medical practitioners. She said: “When I talk about compensation, I am not only talking about income, I am talking about different aspects of compensation and enumerations, such as allowances, working conditions, because the training is extremely rigorous and the work is extremely sensitive and the reward for all of these should be very tangible. That’s why we are having brain drain. The brain drain is also not about money, it is about the remuneration and conditions of service.”
She advised the government to refocus and put down grandiose projects and building 1000 bed hospitals, bringing in big equipments, as there are even no doctors to fit in these hospitals. She said: “People can’t afford to use these equipments. We need to go down to the grassroots. If it is well in the grassroots as regards tertiary care, then a lot of people would not even need the secondary or tertiary care that we are all checking after. “Rather, we need to invest in our health workers. When I mean health workers, I am not talking only of doctors; I am also talking about community health workers, health extension workers and paramedicals. We need to invest in them, they can do much more than they are doing. We are loosing medical professionals into other teams, because there in no encouragement in the sector.
Market Doctor is a social impact enterprise that provide affordable and accessible basic healthcare to Nigerians, especially those in the informal sector, rural areas and slums, who either do not have access to quality healthcare or can not afford it. According to Oyalowo, the purpose is to serve people in need of care, with professionalism, igniting hope, and taking healthcare to the door steps of Nigerians without disturbing their day-to-day activities. “We believe in a world where people can have access to basic health services irrespective of their location, religion, ethnic group and social class,” she said.
Market Doctor was established about five years ago. Oyalowo, founder/CEO said since its inception, they have had over 100 partnerships, which includes organisations, associations, companies, religious bodies, schools and even individuals.
Explaining the essence of impact luncheon, she said it is to see how they can do much more. “We have only scratched the surface. We need more companies, individuals, parastatals and philanthropists to come in. Even government organisations who are looking to give back, we want to say that health is a way they can give back, and we have created a platform. People tends to give back when it comes to entertainment, give away things like generator and so on. But healthcare is a way you can actually give back, and we are telling people when they are doing landmark birthday to come and donate health-wise to the communities. We call it birthday blessings,” she said.
The programme also featured an award ceremony in appreciation to their long and deserving partners. Shalina Healthcare was honored for being their longest serving partner that have been with them since inception. “They gave us jobs and we have moved more than partnership. It has more of collaboration, we do things together and think together”, Oyalowo said.
Also, MTN Foundation, a company that has helped Market Doctor to reach huge milestone was also given an award.
Receiving the award, Folorunso Alaran, Head of Marketing, Shalina Healthcare, said Market Doctor cares of the indigent people, taking medicare to the grass root to who ordinarily would not have time to access healthcare.
“Just like us, we believe that Africans have the right to quality healthcare. Our purpose in operation is directed towards achieving that purpose. So we decided to partner with Market Doctor. We see them as a wonderful partner that will help us to achieve our purpose.
“Many of our medical doctors and pharmacists are going out, but we can not all run away. With this we are far from getting the ideal health system in place, but I am sure the government is trying. Market Doctor is helping to alleviate that problem by taking the medicare to the indigent people, and those who are too busy to go and access healthcare,” Alaran said.
In her remarks, Peju Faloye, Director, Pecantrust Micro Finance Bank, lauded Market Doctor. She said: “Market Doctor is doing something fantastic. If you are talking about health in Africa, in anywhere family, this is where it starts, from being able to give people life, to have access to a healthy healthcare. That is what “Market Doctor” is doing. Personally, I am very interested. I will put in everything that I can to support them as much as possible. Market Doctor is focusing in what is important, so I think every business should one way or the other, support the people”.
Chris Ani, a pharmacist, said: “This is my first time of experiencing this. I was touched personally as a pharmacist at what Market Doctor is doing. In our society, you find philanthropic organisation whose impact to us is very poor, who we stand to gain little or nothing from. Emzor has agreed to partner with this to ensure it grows. I don’t even mind partnering with them as an individual so that it will be an opportunity to give back no matter how small to the society.”
While expressing optimism in the Nigerian health sector, he said: “It can be better. We are not there yet, especially with the recent massive migration of healthcare personnel. If nothing is done to mitigate this trend, it can not augur well for the sector. So if Market Doctor is bridging this gap of meeting the immediate needs of the society, then it behoves on both the government and the private sector, to ensure that this sector is not allowed to completely decay”.
Commending the initiative, Dr Sola Oluwole said: “We need more people to do things like she is doing. Government cannot do it alone, we really a lot of both corporate and private initiative”.
One of the directors of Market Doctor, Taiwo Oshinusi, who is based in the United States of America, explained why he decided to be a part of the initiative. He said: “I decided to be part of it it when I saw the importance of what Market Doctor is doing, based on experiences I also had. Since then we have been breaking barriers, saving lives and improving the quality of lives in Lagos and Nigeria in totality. The Nigeria health sector needs a lot of help. We leave everything to the government alone. Cooperate organisations can channel some of the advertisement budgets to Corporate Social Responsibility, to save lives.”