Lagos NMA seeks exit replacement policy to reduce brain drain

By Chioma Obinna

Worried about the acute shortage of health workers within the health system in Nigeria and Lagos in particular, the Lagos State Branch of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has called the for the introduction of a seamless exit from replacement policy within the health system in order to end the current brain drain affecting healthcare delivery in the country.

Speaking during the association’s Elders’ Interactive Forum  with the theme: “Sitting with Elders to move NMA Forward” the State Chairman of  NMA, Dr Saliu Oseni  regretted that despite the alarming rate at which Nigerian doctors are migrating abroad for greener pastures, the country still, have some  doctors who are yet to get a placement.

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According to him, the issue of seamless exit – replacement affects all part of healthcare delivery.

“A seamless exit replacement with regular employment will reduce the severe effects of the brain drain. We have been talking about brain drain and we still have a lot of younger doctors that are still looking for placements. With a seamless replacement system, for instance, if you have a 100 people managing the health sector for over a year and by the middle of the year, you have 50 people left; it should be automatic for you to replace the 50 that left.   But that is not the case currently in the system.  This is part of the concerns at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, where doctors are currently on strike.  “Where I work, a doctor attends to between 50 and 70 patients within the clinic hours and basically you cannot get the best from that doctor.   We need to improve the health delivery and we should also remember that the doctors are human beings and they have their limitations.”

Oseni said the problem was one of the reasons why the association organised the Elders ‘forum to look at some of the challenges facing medical practice in the state and tap from the knowledge of the older doctors in the profession. “The poor health indices could be linked to some of the current issues affecting the business of the profession, non-implementation of laudable policies or the lack of appropriate health system auditing mechanism and the absence of structure for continued overhauling of policies/strategies that have proven to be inefficient in addressing the numerous challenges militating against the delivery of affordable, accessible and efficient healthcare.”

Lamenting the exclusion of the NMA in the coming Board of the Lagos State Health Scheme in the key stages  including the conceptualisation and design of the scheme,

He further stressed the need to develop policies that would positively impact young doctors, as the future of the medical profession depends to a large extent on their personal and professional well – being.  In his lecture entitled: Leading and Mentoring The Young Doctors: A task for the Elders”, Prof Pat Utomi who was represented by the Dean School of Eloquence, Mr Ubong Essien, noted that mentoring was key in every profession, hence the need for elders in the medical profession to mentor younger doctors to preserve the future of the profession.

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