THE Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the foremost University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, Prof. Abiodun Otegbayo, recently shocked the world when he announced that 600 clinicians, making up of nurses, doctors and pharmacists, among others, resigned their appointments with the institution between 2020 and October 15, 2022. This revelation, which he blamed principally on push and pull factors that included poor welfare of workers, insecurity, etc., was made while addressing a news conference in commemoration of the 65th Founder’s Day celebration of UCH in Ibadan. As disheartening as this news is, it is painful to acknowledge that this worrisome picture painted about UCH represents the lots of many other government and private hospitals in the country.
THIS sad disclosure is a clear warning signal that the Nigeria health sector, like many others, has been severely affected by the massive relocation of health workers who moved oversees to evade poor welfare and unfriendly work environment, bad economy, insecurity, as well as other life-taking elements that have further reduced life expectancy in Nigeria. The Hope believes that the fact that health professions in the various levels of health care are leaving in droves must have informed the recent plea by Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the governor of Ondo State, to the state coordinator of NYSC that Corps doctors should be posted to the state.
UNDOUBTEDLY, this startling revelation of near-empty hospitals across the country negates the perception of the Minister for Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who said medical practitioners in Nigeria were enough and that there was no need to worry. This dismissive opinion of the minister about an existential matter shows that he is simply either ignorant or disillusioned about very many manifestations in the country where he is a central cabinet member.
WE are of the opinion that this emigration of Nigeria health workers to foreign countries has very grave implications for the nation, with the predictable collapse of the health and other sectors in the country, given the central roles qualitative healthcare plays in the development of the economy and overall national growth cum development. This is not to mention the possibility of increased epidemics and mortality rates, as well as lower productivity of all shades of workers.
TO mitigate this awful development, The Hope is of the opinion that as a medium-term approach, health workers should be massively recruited in order to fill the yearning gaps created. Similarly, retired but effective health practitioners should be recalled to provide leadership, and help strengthen the health sector by way of emplacing required reinforcements for the new set of personnel to be employed.
OTHER likely solutions to this imbroglio are the need for the Nigeria government to enter into bilateral engagements with countries benefiting from the drain, in order to curtail the exodus. Further to the foregoing, urgent deliberate steps should be taken to improve the working conditions and welfare of health workers, particularly by way of commensurate salaries.
FUNDAMENTALLY, there is also the need to fix the country’s economy, to ensure the stability that would guarantee an improvement in the purchasing power of Nigerians, in order to minimise the proclivity to seek greener pastures. We also advise that governments at all levels should digitise health services to occasion easy access, with requisite equipment put in place in the various hospitals to eliminate avoidable complications in healthcare management and deployment. This is as veritable laudable initiatives are to be taken to emplace robust training schemes for health workers, with education loans provided to allow them easy access to further trainings. Such beneficiaries of the training programmes should be bonded for a period of time when they would compulsorily work in the services of the Nigeria government. With this, reasonable stability would be injected into the health sector of Nigeria.
THE HOPE commends the commitment of the Federal Government to retool healthcare provisions in Nigeria, as unveiled by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at the recent two-day Presidential Health Reform Committee Retreat, where he stated that government would reposition Nigeria’s healthcare system to include collaboration among different levels of government and the private sector. He equally said the initiative was to ensure effective reforms that would take care of the health needs of Nigerians in the 21st century.
HOWEVER laudable the intention of government is, we are nonetheless sure the attempt would end as another flash in the pan if the personnel required to drive the idea are in short supply, given the ongoing systematic emptying of our hospitals.