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COVID-19-inspired movie, Unmasked, premieres in Ibadan today



…Harps On Brain Drain Among Medical Personnel
The second leg of the serial premiere of the documentary film, Unmasked: Leadership, Trust and COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria holds today at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Conference Centre, Ibadan.

Produced and directed by ace filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi, co-produced and presented by media entrepreneur, Kadara Ahmed, the screening of the 95-minute documentary will also feature a conversation on issues around state of health system in the country.

With the theme, ‘Stopping brain drain in the health sector’, the conversation will have as special guest of honour Oyo State Governor, Oluseyi Makinde. The keynote speaker is Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, who had also performed same role at the maiden premiere and conversation on held in Lagos on May 7.

The film’s production and conversation facilitated by support of MacArthur Foundation and Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), will also witness panel discussions from Consultant Virologist to the World Health Organisation, WHO, Professor Oyewale Tomori; Provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Professor Olayinka Omigbodun and Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Bashir Bello.


According to Odugbemi, “COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world on its head and hit the world’s most populous black nation Nigeria with predictable ferocity. With its soft underbelly of corruption, poor healthcare infrastructure, weak systems and an ever-increasing number of its population below the poverty line, the impact of COVID-19 pandemic has been substantial, but could this also be an opportunity for reset?”

Speaking on the theme, the film director, Odugbemi said it was deliberately chosen to address issues of shortage of personnel and poor training, orientation and remuneration, which the film identified through interviews and interactions with many of the respondents in the docu-feature, produced by Daria Media and Zuri24 Media.

“Interviews with many of the protagonists, for instance, showed that majority of medical personnel – doctors, nurses, special care givers, laboratory technicians and even attendants, who remain in service in the country would jump at any slight opportunity to leave the shores of Nigeria for “greener pastures” in other countries.

“This is not just about the matter of poor and sometimes haphazard remuneration and abusive condition of service, it also has to do with general despondency about the working environment, lack of appropriate equipment and facility to work with, poor attitude of political leaders to the interest and welfare of the medical personnel, all of which often lead to frequent strikes and industrial actions by the medical personnel.”


The multiple award-winning storyteller added, “we discovered that whereas we spend so much money to train these medical personnel and specialists, we discourage them from remaining in the system. We soon lose them to Canada, UK, US and other countries. Such was our situation when the pandemic came calling and we had shortage of personnel to serve in the frontline. And even where they were available they had been so disoriented that it was difficult for them to rise up effectively to the occasion.”

While Ms Ahmed, a journalist who doubles as moderator at the event stated that the film will center on how the public and private sector can collaborate for the development of a robust and effective public health care system. “It is the hope of the producers of the documentary that beyond documenting the Nigerian story of COVID, Unmasked acts as a catalyst for a conversation on shortcomings in our public health sector that were unmasked by COVID.”

She also disclosed that subsequent screening of the documentary will hold in Kano, Kaduna and, perhaps, Port Harcourt, “in those cities the conversations will revolve around the training and retention of medical personnel in Nigeria and the provisions of basic healthcare as a perquisite for development of a robust human resources.”


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Femi OdugbemiPLACUnmasked
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