By Kolade Adeyemi, Jos
Apparently worried by the mass exodus of highly trained medical and health manpower for greener pastures outside the country, amidst COVID-19 pandemic, the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) has raised the alarm that the fragile health sector risked total collapse if the pathetic situation is not addressed.
The National President of the association, Professor Ken Ozoilo, who stated this in Jos while reading the communique issued by MDCAN at the end of its virtual executive council meeting, noted with alarm the very high rate of emigration of Nigeria’s highly trained medical and health manpower for greener pastures.
He noted that the failure of government to recognise the nexus between this massive brain drain and the COVID-19 recovery efforts in destination countries was most worrisome and noted that while these countries have put in place measures to recover their health systems, including boosting personnel by luring its members with lucrative conditions of service, the Nigerian government has not put in place any serious measures to retain these highly skilled manpower.
“The link between the dilapidated state of the economy, poor remuneration, inadequate health infrastructure/equipment and highly volatile security situation are also factors forcing doctors to emigrate. It is worthy of note that this brain drain also constitutes a terrible drain on Nigeria’s economy as huge amounts of the taxpayers’ money were invested in training these doctors.”
Professor Ozoilo called on the federal government to recognise the mass exodus of highly qualified health manpower, trained at expense of the Nigerian people’s money, as a national emergency, adding that the interplay of several factors, including the economy, insecurity, facilities and job satisfaction in promoting this brain drain, needs to be recognised.
According to him, the time has come for the government to begin to take active steps to examine the problem and advance solutions, or risk imminent collapse of the already fragile health system. A good starting point is increased health system funding and appropriate remuneration of personnel, with particular attention to the workplace environment, including safety and comfort of patients and personnel.