By Seriki Adinoyi
The Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) has raised the alarm over the very high rate of emigration of Nigeria’s highly trained doctors and other health workers to greener pastures, describing it as a national emergency that should worry a nation that is battling with COVID-19 pandemic.
Arising from its virtual National Executive Council, MDCAN observed that the failure of government to recognise the nexus between this massive brain drain and the COVID-19 recovery efforts is most worrisome, adding that: “While other countries have put in place measures to recover their health systems, including boosting personnel by luring our members with lucrative conditions of service, the Nigerian government has not put in place any serious measure to retain these highly skilled manpower.”
The consultants also identified highly volatile security situation, dilapidated state of the economy, poor remuneration, and inadequate health infrastructure/equipment as factors forcing doctors to emigrate.
MDCAN said: “The current brain drain that has increased exponentially in recent times is also partly fuelled by the need to flee this insecurity. Government must therefore be more proactive in its approach to confronting these security challenges. The community policing initiative is laudable, but more need to be done to decentralize security, and to further empower communities to take more responsibility for their protection.”
While noting that the brain drain also constitutes a terrible drain on Nigeria’s economy as huge amounts of taxpayers’ money is invested in training these doctors, MDCAN charged government to begin to take active steps to examine the problem and advance solutions, or risk imminent collapse of the already fragile health system by increasing health system funding and appropriate remuneration of personnel.
“We call on the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Ministry of Finance and all other relevant agencies of government to as a matter of urgency ensure the clearance of arrears owed for the outsourced services in Federal Tertiary Health Institutions, especially security.
“The operatives of some of these companies, who are paid very meagre salaries, have been owed for months or years. This state of affairs not only diminishes their fidelity at work, but actually turns some of them into security risks as they may become prone to inducement into criminal activity, especially within the hospital,” the consultants lamented.