The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof Innocent Uja, has likened the way medical practitioners leave Nigeria to practise abroad to sitting on a time bomb.
He therefore called on the Federal Government to do something urgent about the situation. This is just as the Joint Health Sector Union advised the government to improve working conditions for health workers in the country.
Uja made his position known in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday. He said, “The issue of brain drain in health sector should not be taken lightly because it is like sitting on a time bomb.
“This issue must be properly discussed on the right table between Federal Government and stakeholders, because the way things are going, we are exporting our best and producing for other countries.
“If we are not good, why do they employ us? Our doctors are well-trained and anywhere they go, they will be employed. “Though, we are not valued in Nigeria, when you go to Europe and America, there is a report recently that over 5,700 Nigerian doctors are practising in UK.
“On a monthly basis, many Nigerian doctors are travelling out. The issue of brain drain in the nation’s health sector must be properly discussed.”
Uja faulted the recent suggestion by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, that medical workers trained by the government should be made to sign a bond that would make them serve the country for at least nine years before they can consider relocating to another country.
The NMA President noted that with the rules of international convention, no one could stop mobility of labour.
“The truth of the matter is that if you prevent people from going and they stay in Nigeria and are not working, will you force any doctor to see a patient? It is demotivation, it is not something to be contemplated at all.
“The best thing is to understand the factors responsible for brain drain in health sector and stop them before they become monsters,” Uja said.
Also, the Joint Health Sector Union in a separate interview with The PUNCH advised the Federal Government to improve working conditions for health workers in the country.
The union’s spokesperson, Olumide Akintayo, said, “If we don’t improve working conditions, we will continue to see that most workers will migrate.
“The issue of brain drain is not just about the physicians; it also has to do with health workers.
“We cannot continue in this kind of situation: hostile work environment, lack of consistent pay and all of that. These things need to be challenged.”