The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), umbrella body of medical doctors practicing in the country, has hinted of a possible shutdown if the government fails to address the myriads of challenges facing its members.
The NMA has called on the Federal and State Governments to declare a State of Emergency on the nation’s Health Care Sector in order to protect welfare of the citizenry.
The Association described as alarming the high brain drain hitting the sector in the last seven years when 10,296 doctors who obtained their degrees in Nigeria, left the country to currently practice in the United Kingdom.
The NMA President, Dr. Uche Rowland Ojinmah, who said this during a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday to mark the 2022 physicians’ week, called on the Nigerian government to declare a state of emergency in the country’s health sector.
Mr Rowland said Nigerian doctors are poorly paid, overworked, lack necessary work tools, “and have become a target for kidnapping.”
He said the medical profession has been taken from the lofty heights of nobility to nothingness by the neglect and possible disdain for the health sector by successive governments.
He said: ““We as Nigerian doctors have been taken from the lofty heights of nobility to nothingness by the neglect and possible disdain for the health sector by successive governments.
“The penchant of State governments for seizing or slashing our salaries and paying it piecemeal at their convenience without interest has become a subject of folklore and hence cannot be allowed to continue. On the need to review CONMESS, let me inform you that the ball is now in court of the Government and they are foot-dragging.
“The era of blind loyalty is over. Let us all patiently wait to hear the plans of the presidential candidates for Nigeria especially in the Health sector before pitching our political support tent. On the sub-themes; the issue of progressive depletion of human resource for health cannot be over emphasized.
Mr Rowland said statistics has revealed that between 1 January and 30 September, about 1,307 Nigerian trained doctors were licensed in the United Kingdom (UK) as the country continues to battle one of the worst brain drains in its history.
He said Nigeria has the highest number of foreign doctors in the UK after India and Pakistan.
He explained that while Nigeria is losing its human resource for health in geometric progression, Lassa Fever, Malaria, COVID-19, Ebola, and others are still very much available in the country.
“We call on our government to quickly declare emergency action in Nigeria’s health sector for the sake of her citizens,” he said.
The theme of this year’s Physicians’ Week is: “Nigeria’s Healthcare Delivery System and The 2023 Democratic Transition: A Time To Change The Narrative”.
A 2017 survey by the Nigerian Polling organisation (NOIPolls) in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch, revealed that about 88 per cent of medical doctors in Nigeria were seeking work opportunities abroad at the time.
Earlier this year, the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) said more than 100 of its members left the country within 24 months.
He attributed the brain drain in the health sector to poor funding, poor welfare and insecurity challenges in the country.
Also, he lamented that the Nigerian government has not done a comprehensive review of health workers’ salaries since 2009 despite inflation.
This, he said, has combined with annual poor budgetary allocation to the health sector, to impact on the country negatively.