The Nigerian Medical Association has said that about 2000 medical workers leave the country annually to developed countries.
The National President of the Association, Francis Faduyile, said this in Abakaliki during the opening ceremony of the Annual General Conference/Delegates meeting of the association in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
He said the exodus necessitated the theme of the meeting which is ‘Skill Repatriation in the Health Sector: Turning Nigeria’s brain drain to brain gain’.
“The theme is apt at this point in time when brain drain in the health sector is at its peak, with about 2,000 health practitioners leaving the shores of Nigeria annually,” Mr 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.”
Mr Faduyile also said politicians in the country do not seem to be worried about the trend because they do not 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 Republic of Nigeria, who incidentally or coincidentally doubles as a senior member of the medical profession, it is our firm belief that this gathering would generate further affirmatory statistics and facts that possibly would be enough in convincing those policymakers at critical MDAs of government at all levels, including the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity 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”, Mr Faduyile said.
The doctor was making reference to the labour minister, Chris Ngige, who recently made a controversial statement that appeared to support the emigration of Nigerian doctors.
At Thursday’s event, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, also expressed worry about 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, Emeka Onwe, the minister said the federal government was working hard to end the exodus of medical workers from the country.
“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.”
Mr Adewole said the federal government has instituted a diaspora programme geared towards engaging doctors who have acquired the 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 an increased contribution to our healthcare delivery”.
The minister also expressed concern at the inability of several state governments to recruit and keep medical doctors, including specialists in their secondary and tertiary hospitals.
“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”.
Declaring the conference open, the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, 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.