News

January 10, 2023

Doctors’ exit, global challenge not peculiar to Nigeria — Ehanire

malnutrition cases in Africa

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…FG to enforce compulsory Covid-19 entry checks at Nigerian entry points

…Nothing can stop 2023 elections – Lai Mohammed

Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor

The continuous migration of Nigerian doctors into other climes in search of better remunerations is not peculiar to the country but an emerging global challenge, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said on Tuesday in Abuja.

The minister, who was presenting the scorecard of the Buhari administration’s legacy in the health sector from 2015 to date, pointed out that the migration of doctors has affected many countries of the world including Europe, Africa and other continents.

Ehanire said however that as many doctors, particularly, consultants are leaving Nigeria in search of greener pastures, Nigeria has not committed any offence as a country for their exit but that the nation was working out new measures to halt the drift and encourage specialists to stay on and serve Nigeria.

Ehanire said, “The very high workforce mobility for health workers is global. Doctors and nurses are moving everywhere. I have had occasions to speak with other countries’ ministers and the situation is the same.  So there is high mobility in the health sector globally so we should not knock ourselves as if we are the only victims on earth.

“Even in the UK, doctors are leaving for other countries where the pay system is higher. In Europe and America with a more ageing population, a lot of doctors and nurses are not even working in hospitals but in nursing and old people’s homes. That is to tell us that doctors’ mobility is a global thing and we have not done anything wrong. It is just the market forces working.

“What we only suffer is the loss of consultants with more experience and confidence in health care management who have left and it takes time to train new doctors to take their places. That is why we want to engage those senior doctors in a better way to give them the opportunity to earn more and they will have a better feeling of utilizing their time. We need to use performance ratings to reward our doctors to enable them to stay back and work but to stop them entirely is not possible because the doctor’s movement is a global trend,” the minister said.

But Ehanire pointed out that while Nigeria is losing around 1000 specialists and consultants yearly, the country is also producing at least 3000 doctors from the universities annually and getting 800 of doctors returning to the country from overseas each year.

The minister promised that the nation is doing will take whatever measures are necessary to make doctors stay and work in Nigeria, one of the measures being the introduction of a performance-based remuneration system, which pays doctors based on how many hours they work rather than the simple civil service payment formula.

On the poor relationship between hospital personnel and patients, which has in many cases resulted in clashes and violent attacks, the minister promised that a new working relationship was being put in place to enhance interpersonal communication and enable doctors, nurses and other workers to see their patients as their customers and clients.

The minister also explained that the drugs being used under the NHIS were drawn from an essential drug list and not necessarily branded but must pass through the verification and certification of the National Drug Agency for Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC to ensure that the right ingredients are there in the right quantity.

On the emergence of new Covid-19 variants and the relaxation of control measures by China and other countries, the minister announced that the relevant health agencies in Nigeria will continue to subject those entering Nigeria from any port of arrival to compulsory temperature checks and vaccinate those who have not been vaccinating before coming into the country.

“Right now we are just going to increase surveillance at ports of entry into Nigeria by checking temperature and asking visitors to fill forms to indicate which country they are coming from and vaccinate those who have not been vaccinated at the airports before they enter the country. But all those who have been duly vaccinated have unhindered access to Nigeria. Those are the measures we are working on,” Ehanire said.

Before the presentation by Ehanire, Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had dispelled the fear being expressed by the Independent National Electoral Commission that an election may not hold in some states of the federation due to security challenges posed by non-state actors.

Mohammed said that nothing on earth could make the election not to be held as planned by the Federal Government next month.

The minister said, “Let me use this opportunity to respond to inquiries from the media over a widely-circulated report, credited to an INEC official, that

the 2023 general elections face a serious threat of cancellation due to insecurity.

“The position of the Federal Government remains that the 2023 elections will be held as planned. Nothing has happened to change that position.

“We are aware that INEC is working with the security agencies to ensure that the elections are successfully held across the country.

“The security agencies have also continued to assure Nigerians that they are working tirelessly to ensure that the elections are held in a peaceful atmosphere. Therefore, there is no cause for alarm,” Mohammed stated.