The Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday decried the way Nigerian doctors were leaving the nation in droves saying the government now has an opportunity to bring back the doctors.
Mr. Osinbajo, who spoke at the 60th-anniversary celebration of the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, said that the dismal levels of job satisfaction caused by poor healthcare system in Nigeria were responsible for the “alarming” brain drain in the country’s health sector.
The vice president’s remarks comes a few days after the Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Lagos State branch, Olumuyiwa Odusote, lamented the exodus of doctors from Nigeria.
The Punch newspaper quoted Mr. Odusote as saying, “The health crisis in Nigeria is unprecedented as the mass exodus hits an alarming proportion.
“Already, it takes a new patient two to three hours to see a doctor. Over 100 doctors have resigned from the University College Hospital, Ibadan, this year; about 800 doctors resigned from Lagos State hospitals in the last two years, and over 50 in November alone.
“Kebbi State has been unable to employ a single doctor in two years despite multiple adverts for employment; over 200 doctors and nurses have resigned from Ladoke Akintola Teaching Hospital this year.
“Seventy per cent of Nigerian doctors are making plans to leave for foreign lands and are taking exams to that effect,” the NMA chairman said.
The vice president in his speech at the UCH, acknowledged that “the last few decades have not exactly been a stellar period for healthcare in Nigeria.”
He pointed out underfunding, neglect and corruption as the major problem affecting the sector.
“Medical workers know more than the rest of us that, without acknowledging and diagnosing a condition, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prescribe and implement the appropriate solutions,” Mr. Osinbajo said, before pointing out what needed to be done to restore the country’s healthcare system.
“First we must create the right conditions at home, by investing in infrastructure, and vigorously fighting the corruption that underlies much of the decline and rot.
“We must also as a matter of urgency redefine our approach to healthcare delivery, management of healthcare institutions and enabling the private sector a prominent place in our healthcare delivery”, he said.
Mr. Osinbajo praised the UCH’s pioneering effort in different areas of medical sciences.
“Since those early days, UCH has gone on to open new frontiers in health care service delivery. It was the first medical institution in Nigeria to launch Nuclear Medicine services, the first to introduce Palliative and Hospice Care services for end-of-life and chronic debilitating diseases, and the first to open a Geriatric Centre in Africa – the Chief Tony Anenih Geriatric Centre, which began operations in 2012, and today, we’ve just commissioned the Adebutu Geriatric Rehabilitation Centre,” Mr. Osinbajo said.
He added, “UCH is also responsible for pioneering interventions in heart and brain surgery in Nigeria, as well as the development of the award-winning Bladder Manikin, which has been patented for use as a medical teaching-aid in low-income countries.”
Mr. Osinbajo said that the UCH was among the initial eight tertiary health facilities that the Buhari administration will be upgrading, through the investment of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA.