By Eseoghene Emuke
The South-South Zonal Executive Council of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called on government at all levels to urgently tackle the fast-rising cases of brain drain in the country’s health sector.
NMA, while stating that brain drain has become one of the major challenges confronting the nation’s health sector, identified poor remuneration, insecurity and inadequate & antiquated workplace environment, particularly equipment, as some of the reasons responsible for the ugly trend.
The body enjoined stakeholders in the sector and policy makers in government both at the Federal and State to embark on critical policy reforms to urgently address the problem from degenerating further.
This was contained in a communique jointly signed by the zonal chairman, Dr. Emmanuel Nwose, and secretary, Dr. Innocent Okoacha, at the end of the South-South Zonal Executive meeting held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“Council-in-session noted with utmost concern that the exodus of skilled workforce to advanced nations for greener pasture is a major challenge facing our Country. Nigeria suffers from huge brain drain across different sectors, particularly in the healthcare sector.
“Poor remuneration, insecurity, inadequate & antiquated workplace environment, particularly equipment, significantly elicit human capital flight among doctors and other healthcare workers.
“ZEC implored stakeholders in the health sector, and policy makers in government to embark on critical policy reforms that would address inadequacies in workplace environment in public and private health institutions as well as improve workers’ welfare, which would reduce emigration of highly trained and skilled personnel from Nigeria”, the communique partly read.
The forum also lamented the unabated insecurity in across the country especially the separate terrorists’ attacks on Kaduna International Airport and Abuja-Kaduna passenger train which led to the murder of Dr. Chinelo Megafu with scores of passengers kidnapped.
NMA implored the Federal Government to direct security agents to immediately mop up illicit arms in circulation in the country through intelligence-driven covert operations to recover ammunition arms.
“Council-in-session noted with dismay the rising insecurity, escalation of banditry and kidnapping in different parts of Nigeria.
“The members of ZEC expressed worry over the senseless killing and maiming of innocent Nigerians, including our colleague, a very promising young medical doctor, Dr. Chinelo Megafu who was killed when bandits attacked the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna train on the 28th of March, 2022. Scores of people were also abducted by the terrorists who are getting emboldened by the day.
“The dastardly act happened barely 48hours after the bandits attacked Kaduna international airport. The twin attack on the airport and train is unprecedented in Nigeria history. The horrendous killing, maiming and abduction of innocent citizens have continued unabated in 2022.
“We condemn the vicious banditry & terrorist attacks in our Country, and call on the Federal, State, Local governments as well as community leaders to brace up to ensure the safety of Nigerians.
“We also urge the relevant agents of government to mop up illicit arms circulating in the country through intelligence-driven covert operations to recover ammunition, as well as virtually secure our borders by utilization of Geo-Surveillance.
“The use of geographic information system for intelligence gathering in the areas affected by the insurgency would help in the tracking of people’s movement and apprehending the terrorists. Citizens were also encouraged to always provide useful information to the law enforcement agents to enable them get rid of miscreants in our society”, it further added.
The zonal council at the meeting, however, commended Governors Ifeanyi Okowa and Nyesom Wike for paying the Medical Residency Training Fund & Training Grants to the doctors in Delta and Rivers States respectively.
It also commended Governors Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Douye Diri (Bayelsa) and Ben Ayade (Cross River) for the recent domestication and implementation of skipping of grade level/full CONMESS for doctors.
The body also further commended Governor Okowa for being the first state governor to commence the payment of the allowance to the doctors, and urged him to extend the payment of the allowance to our colleagues in the Universities, Polytechnic, and Colleges of Education.
It further stated, “The Zonal Executive Council expressed shock at the National Council on Establishment’s (NCE) rejection of the memos on increasing age of retirement for doctors and re- inclusion of the house officers & NYSC doctors in the scheme of service.
“The members of ZEC condemned the unwarranted removal of the house officers & the NYSC doctors from the scheme of service because it could affect their commitments to duty and worsen the nation’s health indices.
“The council-in-session urged the relevant agents of Government to revisit the issues of increasing the retirement age for doctors and re-inclusion of the house officers & the NYSC doctors in the scheme of service so as to improve industrial harmony within the health sector with eventual efficient healthcare delivery to Nigerians.”
The South-South Zonal Executive Council (ZEC) meeting held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State had in attendance former NMA President and President-elect of World Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele; past Secretary General of NMA, past Chairman of NMA Delta State, and current member of the Delta State Civil Service Commission, Dr. Akpufuoma L. Pemu and National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Aniekeme Uwah.