When “things fall apart”, the center often, may no longer hold. In the past two and half years of President Mohammadu Buhari’s government, many things seemed to have fallen apart in the country. Failures in the economy, social system, political system, rising insecurity, hunger and starvation, unemployment, among others, pervades Nigeria. And there do not seem to near end in sight to the deteriorating situation in the country.
Professor Mike Ogirima, National President, Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Thursday, at the association’s national executive council meeting, in Lagos, said that 300 doctors left Nigeria in 2016. “Exodus of Healthcare Professionals – Time to Act is Now”, is the theme of the meeting.
More doctors, according to him, have already joined the migration train in 2017. Even though, he did not give figures, reports indicate that 500 doctors sat for qualifying foreign medical exams to move out of the country this year. Ogirima said: “Nigeria is using her resources to train doctors and professionals at the advantage of foreign countries. What are those things attracting these professionals outside? Can we duplicate those things here?”
NMA President said the responsibility to check doctors’ migration lies with government, the people and professionals who need to provide good working environment. His words: “The government should provide adequate remuneration. We are not saying we should pay so much, but pay them for the job they are doing as at when due”.
And added: “We, on our part as professionals should look inward to change our attitude to patients. We should make patients as the center focus of why we are called doctors”. Ogirima said the National Health Act of 2014 has not been fully implemented despite warnings of legal action and its implications from the NMA”.
Ogirima said the Act holds the key to revolutionizing the health industry. His words: “It will encourage provision of additional fund to the system and ensure care of the vulnerable in the society. The present provision of only three to four per cent of our annual budget to health sector is not helping the development of our system”.
Some African countries, Ogirima said, voted up to 15 per cent or more to health systems, and are witnessing gradual improvement in their health sector; while “Nigerians are now patronizing health facilities in our neighbouring countries”.
According to Agency and other reports, estimated 35,000 Nigerian doctors are practicing abroad, out of 72,000 registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. The United Kingdom and the United States are top destinations of the migrant doctors.
Dr. Abimbola Olajide, official of National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, in August said no fewer than 2,500 doctors would leave Nigeria in 2017.