Nigerian healthcare professionals under the umbrella of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) called for the establishment of a Health Sector Development Bank in a bid to address the rising brain drain in Nigeria’s health sector.
This was disclosed by Dr Uche Ojinmah, National President of the NMA, in a lecture at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Anambra Branch of the association in Awka on Friday.
Ojinmah noted that the establishment of a dedicated bank would encourage more private investment in the sector by providing concessionary and long-term financing for health workers.
In the lecture-themed “Mass Emigration of Doctors and Other Health Workers; Origin, Challenges and Solution” the NMA chief said the dedicated bank would encourage more private investment in the sector.
Ojinmah warned that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) had become a source of cheap labour for governors and should be made optional for medical school graduates, adding that private investments should be encouraged in the sector with government support as well as borrowing a leaf from the countries where the emigrating doctors find an attraction, he said:
- “A Health development bank should be established to provide funds for the private sector to establish hospitals at a concessionary rate with a good moratorium for repayment.
- “There should also be graded disposal of public health institutions for profit over five years,”
Ojinmah added that the exodus of trained young professionals comes at a huge cost to the country and should be checked urgently and with sincerity.
He noted the factors influencing the emigration of doctors as poor funding, stressful medical education, including compulsory internship but non-available space which often results in the exploitation of young graduates, he added:
- “Others are poor remuneration, inter-professional rivalry, insecurity, harsh economy, high cost of living, and lack of incentives.
- “Those leaving Nigeria may never come back, Gambia and Sierra Leone are now better-practising locations than Nigeria for health workers, as we now train doctors for export,”.
Ojinmah said despite the disadvantages, the emigration of doctors has its advantages, including exposure to current development in the profession and remittances which had become a major external contributor to the national economy.
What you should know
NewsTimes reported last year that the federal government expressed concern over the rising wave of Nigerian health workers leaving the Nigerian health system to work abroad.
The ex-minister of state for health, Mr Joseph Ekumankama, noted that the ministry is worried that there are fewer Anesthetists left in the Nigerian health chain as less than 1,000 are left in Nigeria, he said:
- “Government is concerned about the rising tide of brain drain and suggestions on ways to mitigate the exodus of the health workforce, especially young anaesthetists are welcome.
- “We note the fewer number of members of the profession that are currently in the country, and I can assure you that the ministry is looking into it.”