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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Doctors’ migration not peculiar to Nigeria -Minister

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has said the exodus of healthcare workers in the country to seek greener pastures is not peculiar to Nigeria.

Dr. Ehanire said this in Abuja on Tuesday at the 17th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari scorecard series from 2015-2023.

He said, “This is not really an exodus. The very high workforce mobility of health workers is global. Doctors and nurses are moving everywhere. I have had to speak with other ministers, even Ghana, they are losing doctors, so there is high mobility in the health sector workforce globally, so we should not knock ourselves as if we are the only victims on earth.”

According to him, the governments in the Gambia, the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Turkey are also lamenting of migration of healthcare workers to other countries.

The minister, however, said the government is planning to introduce performance-based remuneration for healthcare workers to reduce the brain drain in the country.

“This movement is global, and what we are doing about it, first of all, is to do everything we can to improve the condition of service. We have improved the hazard allowance and we are looking at how to improve remuneration.

“We are also looking at how to introduce a better form of performance-based remuneration so that doctors don’t just receive a simple grade-level salary but according to their work, so we try to measure performance and let people be happy that they have properly been rewarded for what they have done.

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“Right now, doctors and nurses don’t feel they are properly rewarded for the work they are doing, so that will help a lot.”

He also said the ministry made submissions to the Health Reform Committee on the upward review of the remunerations of doctors.

“What we are also doing is to do conversion of brain drain to brain gain and we are doing that with a new mechanism that is being set up now to engage Nigerian doctors and pharmacists in diaspora and connect them with universities and hospitals because modern technology makes it possible for somebody to be delivering a lecture in New York and we have people here looking here and hearing it. So, we can have those who can transfer knowledge to do so.

“In absolute terms, I had a conversation with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, and they told us that Nigeria is actually producing about 3,000 doctors every year from our universities, and about 800 doctors trained overseas are returning, and 1,000 is going out.

“So, in reality, there is a net balance, but the employment rate is not commensurate. There are areas where they say they are not going to employ doctors because they are too expensive, so they employ nurses. Some don’t even employ nurses, they will rather employ community health workers because they are cheaper.

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“There are many unemployed doctors in the country. Where we suffer is that the consultants are leaving and it takes time to train new people to be able to take their place and that is why we want to engage those very senior doctors in a better way to give them better opportunities to earn, because, a lot of them will go and do private practice outside but you can also do your private practice inside and improve the access to specialised care and people will have a better feeling of utilising their time.”

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