By Chioma Obinna
As Nigeria battles with brain drain in the health sector with a ratio of one doctor to 6,000 patients, medical doctors have urged the government to look beyond the minimum wage and come up with a proper welfare package to end migration of health professionals abroad.
Speaking at the Good Health Weekly on Vanguard Live (every Wednesday at 10 am co-hosted by Health Editor, Sola Ogundipe and Senior Health Correspondent, Chioma Obinna), the experts maintained that while minimum wage is good, it is not the ultimate now that an estimated 8 out of every 10 doctors are contemplating leaving the country for greener pasture and about four leave every month.
The medical doctors, Dr Saliu Oseni, Lagos State Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, a General Surgeon at the Ikorodu General Hospital, and Dr Moruf Abdulsalam, the Publicity Secretary, Lagos NMA and also a Paediatric Surgeon, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, agreed that with proper welfare package, Nigerian doctors will remain in the country.
“If I am given an opportunity for soft loans and the government is taking care of such loans, why will I want to travel out? What is greener about pasture? What we have been advocating government is to provide an avenue for welfare package.
“Minimum wage is good but I can tell you that if the minimum wage is established fully within six months, inflation will catch up with it. It is not just about financial value, in reality, financial wise, civil servants salary is dropping irrespective of the fact that we are having monetary value increment.
“So we need a proper welfare package. For instance, if the government gives a loan to a staff that will run over 10 years, and he knows and he knows that he already has a house while in service, he will not want to leave, because if he leaves, the government will take back the house.
“These are the things you will use to tie them down not that you will insist that they should sign a bond. Sign bond for what?”