The Committee of Chief Medical Directors (CMD) and Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals, on Wednesday, alerted that Nigerian medical and health professionals are now migrating to other African countries owing to better wages being offered.
The Chairman of the Body, Prof. Emem Bassey, who is also the CMD of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, raised the alarm when he appeared before the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee probing employment racketeering in Federal Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), alongside the heads of other health institutions in the country.
Bassey, who lamented that the Nation’s health sector was currently undergoing a major crisis in terms of manpower as the health professionals were leaving in droves, declared that this was why the medical doctors often went on strike as the government often failed to meet unrealizable promises.
According to him, “Some African countries are also beginning to poach from Nigeria. The West Coast is looking for our specialists. So many people are now going to places like Sierra Leone and Gambia, and the wages they earn are between 3000 and 4000 dollars. It is about three to four times what they earn back home. So we are beginning to see that people are leaving for other African countries too.
“The health sector is currently undergoing a major crisis in terms of manpower. What we are seeing is that medical specialists—not just doctors, but even nurses—are leaving; in fact, even more nurses are leaving. Doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, radiographers, and all manner of health professionals are leaving the country in droves.
“That is part of the problem we are facing. The replacement of these health workers is a very major problem. This is because even though we are usually granted approvals to recruit, getting the waivers is a tortuous process.”
He furthered that due to the urgency of the need to replace various health professionals who leave, it is difficult to comply with federal character policy in recruitment.
Speaking on the incessant strike actions embarked on by the medical doctors, he said, “Strike should be the very last option, but one of the things we have seen has been the fact that we see threats and threats and threats.
“And instead of, I would say, governments in the past sitting down to negotiate feasible resolutions, just because you want to end a strike, you have agreements that you cannot implement.
” And then, after a certain period—six months or one year—and you have not implemented it, people now go on strike. So we need to sit down together.”
Reacting, Chairman of the Committee, Yusuf Gagdi, urged the doctors to be patriotic by staying back to contribute to the development of the country, even if they have better options abroad.
He said the committee would work towards addressing the need to balance compliance with the spirit of federal character and filling urgent vacancies in the health sector.
His words: “I admit there is a lack of advanced medical facilities in our health sector. This is a fact, and we must, as a government, pay attention to that.
“Where we are confused is in the aspect of a lack of patriotism. You are produced by Nigerian institutions. We acknowledge the brain drain and are trying to find solutions.
“We are happy to see you here. A lot of you have the connections, maybe based on the value of your intellect, to be in developed countries and provide services to them. But most of you find fashion in adding value to your motherland and fatherland.
“What are you telling your co-professionals about patriotism, about giving back to the society that gave you the knowledge? We challenge you to bring to your profession the issue of morality.You cannot disown your father, no matter how poor he is, for taking you this far to go and adopt somebody’s father. Nigeria is our country.
“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.
“We would review your submissions entirely. These institutions that have pending recruitment cases would interface with us uniquely. Those of you who don’t have it would have us look into your issue. You have a very good defence for now having a balanced sheet in terms of federal character.
“Nigerians have listened to you. So whatever this committee at the end of the day recommends to the government, it is going to be done, and it is entirely for our good.”