The chairman of the committee of chief medical directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals, Prof. Emem Bassey, has said that doctors and other health professionals are leaving Nigeria in droves to some other African countries that offer them attractive pay and other incentives.
Bassey, who is also the chief medical director of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, stated this when he appeared before the house of representatives ad hoc committee to probe employment racketeering in federal government agencies alongside the heads of other health institutions in the country.
Punch quoted the CMD as saying that countries like Sierra Leone and The Gambia were offering Nigerian doctors and some other health experts between $3000 and $4000 (N2.760, 000 and N3, 680, 000 at N920/$ exchange rate).
Such offers, according to him, are irresistible stressing that Nigeria’s health sector is currently facing manpower crisis as health professionals are leaving in droves.
“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 $3000 to $4000. 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, even nurses, 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. Replacement of these health workers is a major problem. This is because even though we are usually granted approvals to recruit, getting the waivers is a tortuous process,” Bassey said.
He also said Nigerian doctors often go on strike because of non-implementation of agreements on the part of the government while calling on the government to fill the manpower gaps caused by the exodus of medical professionals.
He said a strike should be the last option pointing out that the past governments would always negotiate resolutions that they would not implement just because they wanted to end a strike.
In his response, the chairman of the Ad hoc Committee, Mr Yusuf Gagdi, called for patriotism on the part of the doctors to contribute to the development of the country, even if they have better options overseas.
“I admit there is a lack of advanced medical facilities in our health sector. This is a fact and we must as governments pay attention to that. Where we are confused is the aspect of lack of patriotism.
“You (medical doctors) are produced by Nigerian institutions. We admit the brain drain and are trying to find solutions. We are happy to see you here. A lot of you have connections maybe based on the value of your intellect to be in the developed countries and provide services to them. But most of you find fashion in adding value to your own 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 be true to your own profession and 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,” he said.