The Nigerian Government has been urged to fulfill its promise of implementing the 15% allocation of the total domestic budget to the health sector.
Stakeholders say doing so will mitigate the migration of health workers beyond the shores of the Country.
The Director General of, the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS), Professor Ayo Omotayo made the call in Abuja, at a symposium on Nigeria’s recent health sector Brain drain and its implications for sustainable health service delivery and financing in the context of new National Health Priorities.
He noted that the health sector in Nigeria, in recent times is facing financing and human resource gap; a situation that partly ignited the continuous migration of Nigerian health workers abroad in search of greener pastures.
Professor Omotayo explained that it is a source of concern as it is leading to a reduction in the number of health workers in the country.
He said, Nigeria currently has the third highest number of foreign medical doctors working in the United Kingdom after India and Pakistan.
Professor Omotayo said, the situation has made the Doctors to patient ratio in Nigeria to be one Doctor per ten thousand patients (1:10,000) as against the WHO recommendation of one Doctor per one thousand patients (1:1,000.)
According to him, “Nigeria lost over 9,000 medical doctors to the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America between 2016 and 2018.
A total of 727 medical doctors trained in Nigeria relocated to the United Kingdom alone in 6 months, between December 2021 and May 2022.”
Professor Omotayo called for provision of facilities and increase in renumeration to address brain drain in the Nigerian health sector.
The Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire, represented by the Director for Trauma, Emergencies and Disaster response, Professor Sydney Ibeanusi said, Nigerians have a responsibility to address issues affecting the country, he urged Nigerians to be more patriotic in their areas of endeavor.
He said, the government is making efforts to improve the condition of service of health workers.
The Minister while addressing the issue of brain drain, stressed the need to look into how to repatriate the knowledge of the migrated health workers and provide an enabling environment for them to practice within the country. He called for the private sector engagement into the health sector.
The Representative of the Presidential Health reform committee Dr. Nicolas Audifferen said the committee recognized stakeholder’s engagement as critical in addressing brain drain.
Health development bank
The Chairman Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Uche Rowland suggested for the creation of Health Development Bank to facilitate development of health care sector.
“This bank will provide single digit interest loans with 5 year moratorium on repayment.
Notarized/original degree certificates after verification coupled by Certificate of indemnity from the Nigerian Medical Association should be made acceptable as collateral.” Dr. Rowland said
A panel of discussion during the technical session called for immediate action by the government and all stakeholders in the health sector to address brain drain.
The National symposium on Nigeria’s recent health sector Brain drain was organized by the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies in collaboration with Development Research and Project Center (DRPC).