The Diaspora Medical Association of Nigeria (DMA) has petitioned the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbejabiamila, to reject the bill that seeks to prevent newly qualified medical doctors or others from leaving Nigeria.
Ahmed Lawan, senate president; Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health. and Dr Tanko Sununu, chairman of the House Committee on Health, were all sent a copy of the letter dated 11 April, 2023.
A group of associational leaders, including Dr Emeka Ugwu , president of Nigerian Doctors’ Forum-South Africa; Dr Chinyere Anyaogu, president of Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas; Dr Chris Agbo, president of Medical Association of Nigerians Across Great Britain; Dr Nnamdi Ndubuka, president of Canadian Association of Nigerian Physicians and Dentists and Dr Alamin Dahiru, president of Nigerian Medical Association-Germany; jointly signed the statement and expressed their concern that the proposed bill to mitigate the negative impacts of brain drain might not be the most effective solution and could even be counterproductive.
“We recognise the problems posed by exodus of Nigerian medical professionals, including but not limited to decreased access to healthcare services, lack of quality care delivery, inability to adequately enact healthcare and public health policy due to lack of manpower and leadership resource,” they wrote.
It was recognised by those of Nigerian descent living abroad that a medical or dental professional is the element that holds the team together and is the driving force for an effective healthcare delivery system.
The doctors asserted that medical and dental personnel are not responsible for systemic issues creating an unfavorable atmosphere which causes stress, an extra strain, physical and mental distress, and dissatisfaction with their job, poor working environment and far more.
Medical professionals have identified inadequate investment in healthcare as the primary factor in brain drain. They noted that this lack of investment leads to a suboptimal care delivery framework, eliminating any potential for professional growth, job satisfaction, and a culture of high reliability.
They believe that there are other significant contributing factors, such as inadequate welfare benefits, high insecurity, and lack of job opportunities, specialised training, political and economic uncertainties.
The doctors noted that the majority of problems faced in the healthcare system are due to factors outside of an individual’s control. They added that better governance and investment in healthcare, as outlined in the Abuja Declaration, could lead to better security, education, and pay-rate in Nigeria. Furthermore, they pointed out that the emigration of professionals doesn’t only affect medical and dental practitioners.
“So, the question is why is the medical and dental profession being targeted? Focusing on one aspect of a problem without taking a holistic approach for a sustainable solution will be ineffective. Young professionals leave the country in search of better opportunities. Many are frustrated by consequences of governance failures that have progressively worsened over the past 30 years. The unfortunate reality is that the healthcare system is in a state of serious neglect, training and career development opportunities are limited, thus impairing earning potential. Insecurity is rampant. Equity and justice are lacking for the average Nigerian”, the petitioners stated.