Doctors challenge Nigeria’s new health minister on brain drain, others

File photo of Resident Doctors
File photo of Resident Doctors

Doctors, under the aegis of the Medical Guild, have called on the new Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, to improve on the nation’s health sector and continue from where his predecessor, Isaac Adewole, stopped.

The Guild’s Chairman, Babajide Saheed, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos that a lot needs to be done to improve the healthcare system.

The Medical Guild is the association of doctors under the employment of the Lagos State Government.

“First, the new minister should make sure he finds ways to achieve Universal Health Coverage for the country, which has only covered about five per cent of the population.

“He has to make sure that the primary healthcare system is in place and functional before he goes to secondary and tertiary healthcare.

“There should be infrastructure development in terms of the secondary and tertiary level of care.

“It has to be developed to the standard where qualitative healthcare will be delivered to the populace,” Mr Saheed said.

He said that the policy on immunisation should be made more proactive to ensure that the country was completely free of diseases including polio and to prevent recurrence of the disease.

The chairman said, “The minister should also ensure that the new vaccine on meningitis should be taken more seriously to reduce the incidence of the disease, especially in areas that were most affected.”

Mr Saheed said the key to any health system was health insurance that was functional.

According to him, health insurance has to be accessible, affordable and easy for the populace to tap into.

“If all these are put in place, the healthcare system of the country will be developed and it will be better off for Nigerians,” the chairman said.

He called for a National Health Summit where all stakeholders in the federal, state, and local government levels would discuss issues affecting the development of the health sector.

Mr Saheed said that there was a need for these levels of government to have policies that would ensure a good referral system in the three levels of healthcare.

“If the primary healthcare is functional, it will reduce the burden on both the secondary and tertiary levels of healthcare.

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“We should have specialisation at the tertiary level of care and ensure that the teaching hospitals are well developed and equipped.

“Finally, the rivalry among health workers in the country should be resolved; in that way, the health system will be improved,” he said.

Also, Oluwaseun Ayotola, a general practitioner at a private hospital, Ajayi Medical Centre, said there was a need for the minister to address the issue of medical brain drain by creating incentives for health workers to encourage them to stay.

“There is a need to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and contributions of Nigerian doctors to the health and wellbeing of the citizens; because healthy populations live longer and are more productive,” Mr Ayotola said.

He also urged the minister to employ more health workers, saying that the numbers of doctors, nurses and laboratory scientists were insufficient to cater adequately for the nation’s vast population.

Mr Ayotola urged the minister to evolve initiatives, policies and adequate investment in infrastructure and equipment toward discouraging medical tourism.



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