By Sunday Ehigiator
The Provost of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL), Prof. Afolabi Lasi, has decried the growing rate at which medical doctors and other physicians are leaving the country to practice abroad at a time Nigeria and the rest of the world is faced with emerging diseases such as Covid-19 and Lassa fever.
He made this remarks while speaking to THISDAY on the sideline of the ‘MEDILAG Alumni High Table and Fund Raising Dinner’ held in Lagos recently.
Lasi noted that while brain drain may be attributed as the major reasons trained medical doctors leave Nigeria, the hub of the solution lies in the ability of the government to provide an enabling environment for them to thrive, and be willing to return to give back to the society which made them.
He said: “The issue of brain drain is a major one and there are several factors. It is natural all over the world for people to move from place to place to improve their competencies and skills.
“People travel abroad to acquire knowledge and skills. The challenge about coming back and giving back is that the country has to provide an enabling environment for people to want to stay and comeback.
“It includes welfare and opportunities for young doctors to stay. And I think once that is done, there would be less of this drain. It will always be there, but it appears like it is more common now than ever before because we don’t have enough doctors, we are not producing enough doctors, and the answer is not just increasing the capacity to train, because the facilities have to match the increase.
“The issue of brain drain is a multifactorial problem but it can be addressed. It starts by government providing an enabling environment to attract doctors back to the country or to keep doctors being produced from leaving, except the go on training and they would eventually return.”
Speaking on doctor to patient rate in Lagos State, he said government was well prepared to tackle any disease outbreak, but however preached proper hygiene culture and hand sanitisation habits among Nigerians.
“Since the Ebola epidemic, I believe we have created a response team and a responsive setup that can respond immediately. For instance, we have infectious disease units and wards in LUTH, and in general hospitals even on the mainland.
“Hence I think we are ready. It’s just to be aware and watch people as they come in. If they are sick, you quarantine them, so they don’t pose a danger to the rest of the population.
“Lassa fever is endemic, that means it is found here. Coronavirus is virus endemic to Asia. However, there have been forms of these viruses that come up from time to time. I think our message is that we should not lose sight of basic hygiene. From hand hygiene, washing, sanitising and being very aware.
“When someone is ill, this is not a time to keep that person at home. Report to the hospital so as to prevent possible spread should it be one of these diseases,” he said.