By Justina Auta
Abuja, – The Federal Government, on Wednesday, expressed concern over brain drain and sought for ways to discourage the trend of migration of medical workforce from Nigeria to other countries.
The Minister of State for Health, Mr Joseph Ekumankama, raised the concern during the 30th Annual Scientific
Conference and General Meeting of the Nigerian Society of Anaesthetists (NSA) in Abuja.
Ekumankama, who was represented by Dr David Atuwo, his Director and Senior Technical Assistant in the ministry, said
government had noted some of the concerns raised and efforts were on to address them.
He said “government is concerned about the rising tide of brain drain and suggestions on ways to mitigate the exodus of
health workforce, especially young anaesthetists are welcome.
“We note the fewer number of members of the profession that are currently in the country and I can assure you that the ministry is looking into it.”
He added that the conference theme — “Technology for the Advancement of Anaesthesia”, was apt, as it showcases peculiar requirements
of anaesiologists in post COVID-19 pandemic era.
The NSA President, Prof. Elizabeth Nwasor, also listed some of the challenges affecting the organisation to include inadequate number of
anaesthetists to carter for the population, brain drain, poor facilities in hospitals, among others.
She said “our members are leaving the shores of the country to where they are paid better and have better conditions of service.
“The hospitals are not well equipped with technology. Many hospitals do not have oxygen delivery equipment to work with.
“Shortage of anesthetics in Nigeria, we have less than 1200 before, but now with this massive exodus, we have less than 1,000
anaesthetists for the whole population of 200 million people.
“This is grossly inadequate and not acceptable, according to WHO standard,” she said.
Nwasor added that the conference was a platform for members to discuss issues affecting them, proffer solutions and call on government and other stakeholders to resolve them.
Maj.-Gen. Obashina Ogunbiyi, while presenting the fourth Prof. Christopher Famewo’s Memorial Lecture on “The Turning Point in Anaesthesia Workforce, the Nexus between Anaesthesia Workforce and Research in Nigeria,” highlighted the effects of brain drain to the nation’s health sector.
Ogunbiyi listed some of the factors that contribute to brain drain to include poor welfare and working environment, inadequate infrastructure, insecurity and persistent attacks by other professional bodies.
He said “government at all levels should address insecurity, which the present government is trying to do, but they can do better. And once this is captured, I assure you people will want to remain in the country, in addition to workforce and incentives.
“People are coming back home, it’s just that the number of doctors and nurses that are migrating out far supercedes those coming back.”
While calling on government to provide conducive workplace for health workers, improve welfare package, training of medical workforce, he encouraged anaesthetists to be committed, focused and patriotic to their services. (NAN)