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… Say strong health system is key to faster disease detection, response

By Chioma Obinna

Worried about the ravaging effects of brain drain on the health system, Post Graduate Medical College Fellows’ Association on Friday urged Governments at all levels to create policies that will ensure Nigerian trained specialists remain in the country.

The Fellows, who also stressed the need to strengthen the country’s health system as it is key to early detection and response to disease outbreaks, said Nigeria’s improved capacity in the laboratory in 2020 aided the country’s detection of COVID-19 within 4 days unlike Ebola in 2014.

Addressing a press conference to herald its 16th Annual Scientific Conference and All Fellow Congress with the theme: “Strengthening the Healthcare System in the Midst of a Pandemic”, President, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, NPMCN, Prof Akin Osibogun said creating strategies that will retain specialists will tackle the ‘pull and push factors’ already affecting both Nigeria’s specialists and junior medical doctors.

 Osibogun who described the current situation in the country’s health system as a  ‘very difficult time’ said even though, the collegeis producingn a  large number of specialists, said the National Postgraduate Medical College has put in place strategies to ramp up the production of qualified specialists for the services of the country.

He said to implement the strategy, they must encourage the government at all levels to put in place strategies that will ensure that these specialists are retained in the country.

Further reeling out factors responsible for brain drain, Osibogun said the pull factors, which include juicy salaries, good work environment, etc., can be controlled through government policies and directions.

He stressed the need for the Nigerian government to improve the work environment of medical professionals and other health workers by ensuring that they have access to the tools of their profession such as consumables and equipment that they need to perform their jobs so that they will have job satisfaction, adding that “It can be painful to have the knowledge and to want to treat a patient and to be handicap simply because some equipment and tools are not available.

“So for us to retain them we need to ensure that we have job satisfaction through being able to carry out those things they know how to do to perform very well and improve their welfare.

“The take-home pay should be able to take them home. So if you look at all these things we will not be pushing them away.   Addressing these factors will mitigate the pull factors because many people will prefer to remain in their country for social and cultural reasons.”

“One of the strategies that the College has adopted is to promote Continued Medical Education, CME.  Annually, we have this scientific conference that provides the opportunity for the exchange of scientific knowledge.”

He said at this year’s scientific conference billed to hold 8th through 12th of August, all fellows of the college who have been involved in research will bring their research findings and the latest findings will detect the direction of treatment for patients in all specialities.  

Explaining the importance of these research works, he said these findings detect the direction of the treatment of patients, adding it adds to the volume of knowledge as well as expands the frontiers of knowledge. 

“It ensures that our fellows are up to date in their professional practice by being aware of the latest development in their field.” 

Disclosing that no fewer than 1000 specialists and consultants in various fields of medicine will be participating in the conference that will hold at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, Osibogun stated that a few participants from outside the country will be joining them.

Continuing, he disclosed that the college has also adopted additional strategies to ensure the quality of their products as well as retain them; the College planning to establish stimulation in training centres across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

“We know that this time is challenging and I seize this opportunity to call on well-meaning Nigerians and corporate organisations to support the college in this task of advancing the health of Nigerians which cannot be done by the government alone. 

He also stressed the need for government, corporate organisations and public-spirited Nigerians to support medical institutions like the College to ensure that the rate of production is higher than the rate of migration.

“The college is trying to deploy technology to train faster and in terms of producing larger numbers. Simulation centres in the long run are cheap but initially, they are capital intensive, but in the long run, they help to train high numbers and over five or 10 years we will be able to triple the number of specialists the college is producing.”

Speaking on the theme, Osibogun who maintained that strengthening the health system was key to early detection and response to disease outbreaks stressed the need to address issues around human resources which is the most critical, funding and processes for better outcomes.

“Without human resources, you cannot use the equipment etc.  It is the most critical then you need the finance, infrastructure; equipment, most importantly you need to put in place the processes because in management you talk about input processes and outcome.  

“We need to put in seamless place processes that allow all the institutions to function optimally and at a higher degree of autonomy and internal control of the system in the institutions so that they can perform more efficiently. And we need to set for them key performance indices, measure performance and reward performance as well as sanction non performance.”

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