Mo Ibrahim: Nigeria, Others Lose $2bn Annually through Brain Drain in Health Sector

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By Obinna Chima

The latest report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has disclosed that Nigeria and other countries in Africa loses about $2 billion annually through brain drain in the health sector

The report stressed that no sound governance in Africa can be achieved without strong public services.

The foundation stated this in its 2018 Ibrahim Forum Report titled: “Public Service in Africa.”

The report is expected to form discussion at the 2018 Ibrahim Forumholding in Rwanda next Saturday.

According the report, only three countries – Libya, Mauritius and Tunisia, have at least one doctor per 1,000 people.

It noted that covering the void left by public services, private security, private education, and private health were rising exponentially, with the risk of widening inequalities on the continent

Furthermore, it showed that five out of the 10 African countries with the largest public health expenditures as a percentage of total government expenditure were also among the 10 countries with the highest share of external financing of their total health expenditure

In addition, it pointed out that between 30 and 50 per cent of Africa’s total tax liability remained uncollected.

“Personal Safety is the most deteriorated of the 14 sub-categories in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, over the past decade.

 “Twenty-two per cent of Africa’s population who had contact with a public service in 2015 said they paid a bribe, mostly to the police and the courts.

“In e-government, Africa lags far behind the global average in Rwanda, the delivery time of an emergency blood supply with drones is reduced to 30 minutes from three hours by road.

“Many Indices point to a low and decreasing level of open government practices in Africa. Over the past decade, the African average for the Accountability of Public Officials has deteriorated, with the pace of decline worsening over the last five years

“Most African citizens are in favour of paying for public services. Only seven African countries have a complete birth registration system,” it stated.

Commenting on the report, the Chairman of the Foundation, Mo Ibrahim, described public service as the pillar of governance.

He noted that without strong public services and committed public servants, there would be no efficient delivery of expected public goods and services, nor implementation of any commitment, however strongly voiced.

The report highlighted the demand addressed to African public services, pointing at growing expectations from citizens.

The report further assessed the current state of African public services and their key challenges, both from the job attractiveness side and from the delivery side.

It findings showed that on average, African public services displayed a continent-wide lack of capacity.

“They remain a relatively small employer, at a cost higher than in other regions, with large country disparities. In health, education and security, public supply is far from answering the demand.

“Partly to answer the exponential demand, partly to substitute failing public supply, a growing range of non-state actors have become key providers of public goods and services, to an extent that may have sometimes prevented national governments from owning public policies.

“Public employees in Africa are on average better educated than in the private sector and are also twice older on average than the population they serve.

“Job motivation is mainly about job security rather than wages, mobility within or outside public service is almost non- existent, political dependence is strong, working equipment is scarce, corruption is among the highest at global level, “ghost public servants” populate many services, while too many of the best-trained choose to work abroad,”it added.

According to the report, building public services in post-conflict settings, often from scratch, represents a specific challenge.

But on a young continent whose ability to leap-frog has been often displayed, potential solutions and best practices exist: monetary and non-monetary incentives, internal and external mobility, capacity building and new technologies, it stated.