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African nations pay Nigerian doctors more

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By Usman Oladimeji

Large exodus of health workers is causing a crisis in the sector.

As the issue of brain drain persists in Nigeria, it has come to light that people are leaving not just for foreign nations but also for other African countries. As per statement made by the Chairman of the Committee of Chief Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals, Prof. Emem Bassey, several African nations are increasingly engaging and recruiting Nigerian medical doctors and other health experts. He stated that nations such as Sierra Leone and Gambia were providing remuneration ranging from $3000 to $4000, a sum approximately three to fourfold greater than that paid in Nigeria.

Bassey, who is also the CMD of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, said there is a severe crisis in the health sector due to a large exodus of health workers. This was mentioned when he appeared before the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee to probe employment racketeering in Federal Government agencies alongside the heads of other health institutions in the country. An intriguing aspect is that, it is not simply medical doctors who are departing the country in droves but also nurses, laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, radiographers, among others.

There is a need to renegotiate the agreements.

More so, finding qualified individuals to fill these medical positions has become a critical issue. Despite approval for the recruit, securing the waivers is a lengthy and difficult procedure. It is challenging to adhere to federal character in recruiting because of the urgency of the requirement to replace varied health professionals who leave the field. In addition, he explained that the government’s repeated failure to deliver on unrealistic promises was a major factor in the frequent strikes by the medical community. This is because, in order to end a strike, successive administrations agreed on terms that are not feasible.

Now that an agreement has been reached, the government is unable to implement its terms, which is inevitably leading to another round of strikes. For these reasons there is a need to renegotiate the agreements, Bassey added. Ad hoc Committee Chairman Hon. Yusuf Gagdi encouraged doctors to be patriotic and remain in the nation to aid in its development, even if they could find more lucrative employment elsewhere. He stated that the committee would strive to find a middle ground between strict adherence to federal character and the necessity to urgently fill vacant positions in the healthcare sector.

Medical professionals’ lack of patriotism is a major problem.

Gagdi said the government should prioritize improving the country’s medical facilities while admitting the sector’s lack of innovative technologies. His key point was that medical physicians are “bred in Nigerian institutions,” suggesting that their lack of patriotism is a major problem. “A lot of you have connections perhaps based on the value of your intellect to be in the developed countries and provide services to them. But most of you find fashion in adding value to your own motherland and fatherland”.

As per his assertion, “What are you telling your co-professionals about patriotism, about giving back to the society that gave you the knowledge? Thus, he challenged them to be true to their profession and the issue of morality. “Nigeria produced us as medical doctors, no matter the rot within our public sector in terms of remuneration. Let us work together and see how we can find solutions to that. But let us remain in Nigeria to serve our own country.”

Government will implement the committee recommendation.

He went on to assure that the administration will carefully examine the physicians’ proposals. There will be a special interface for institutions with pending recruitment cases. Meanwhile, the issue of those who don’t have one will be thoroughly examined, he said. Gadgi noted that they have a balanced slate in terms of federal character, and this is a valid argument in their favour. In other words, he concluded that the government will implement whatever recommendation the committee makes in the end, which will be for the benefit of all.

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