How to reverse brain drain in health sector, by NMA
• Association tasks govt on health facilities, medical tourism
• Moves against violent assault on staff by patients, relatives
The parent body of all medical doctors in Nigeria, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), yesterday, gave recommendations on how to reverse ongoing brain drain in the country.
This was contained in a communiqué, jointly signed by the President, Dr. Uche R. Ojinmah, and Secretary General, Dr. Jide Onyekwelu, and issued at the end of the association’s 63rd yearly general conference and delegates’ meeting, held in Jalingo, Taraba State.
NMA asked governments, at all levels, to prioritise healthcare, show better political commitment to healthcare financing, pay better and competitive salaries, provide better work environment, rejig security architecture to protect life and property, and provide access to social amenities and increased opportunities for doctors.
The medical practitioners identified these factors as key to reversing brain drain and turning the same to brain gain. The conference also called on government to establish world-class health facilities in Nigeria, while advising political leaders to shun unnecessary medical tourism.
The theme of the conference was: ‘Medicine and the law’. The sub-themes were: ‘Violence against health workers in Nigeria: which way forward?’ and ‘Menace of substance abuse in Nigeria: the burden and urgent need for action’.
The meeting called on the House of Representatives to reject the controversial bill by a lawmaker, Ganiyu Johnson, noting that NMA would deploy all legitimate means at its disposal to resist any form of enslavement of Nigerian medical and dental practitioners.
NMA said, instead, the National Assembly should put pressure on government to address “push” factors propelling brain drain, which have led to mass exodus of doctors and other health workers to greener pastures.
The delegates’ meeting also called on the Federal Ministry of Health to jettison the idea of forced bonding of doctors, via policy directive, saying it is against natural justice, equity and good conscience, and would be stoutly resisted by NMA.
The conference called on government to urgently address cases of violence against healthcare workers by declaring the issue a national emergency. The doctors, specifically, called on federal and state lawmakers to pass protective laws to stop the violence and safeguard the rights of healthcare workers.
The doctors further directed the management of health institutions to develop protocols for identifying and handling potential cases of violence, develop an effective communication strategy, and promptly report cases of violence to appropriate authorities for prosecution.
The meeting directed the National Officers’ Committee to follow up the case of the gruesome murder of Dr. Uyi Iluobe to a logical conclusion.