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January 17, 2024

Japa: Why we can’t go abroad to practise  — Nigerian doctors

Japa: Why we can’t go abroad to practise  — Nigerian doctors

One of the major challenges facing Nigeria’s health sector is the migration of personnel in search of a better life.

In the intricate tapestry of Nigeria’s healthcare landscape, however, a pressing concern resonates among the nation’s doctors: the limitations of practicing abroad.

The mitigating factors for doctors include family ties, commitment to people, and age.

Some medical doctors in the health sector have shared their experiences and the reasons they are unable to travel abroad to practice.

Dr. Taiwo Obindo, the President of the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN), said that age was a major factor limiting some doctors from migrating.

Obindo said that the majority of the available personnel in the health sector now were those advanced both in the profession and in age.

According to him, they are too committed to the job and feel that they have taken much from the system and country, and it is time for them to give back to the nation.

“Quite a number of us that are old in the system may not feel too free to leave the country because we have received from this country and we have grown over time.

“And going abroad to start all over again may not be a good idea, because it will also require training and retraining.

“Not that we feel comfortable or we are satisfied with the conditions in the country, most of us are just too old and too committed to Nigeria and Nigerians that we cannot leave.

“As a result, we generally feel that we have taken much from the country and we therefore need to give back.

“Some of us are already engaged; we have patients that we are committed to and leaving them behind unattended to may not be easy,” he said.

The psychiatrist expressed optimism that the economy would get better and that those practising abroad might desire to come home.

He urged the Federal Government to do everything humanly possible to stabilize the economy and improve the working conditions of the health sector in particular.

“So, we still believe that things can improve; security can be improved, remuneration further increased and facility to work with can also be enhanced.

“Presently, the cost of healthcare is generally high as people who need the services cannot afford the medication.

“Majority of the drugs are largely imported and most of the companies are even leaving.

“Can we have a way of producing the drugs locally here, to reduce their cost? These are areas the government need to do something,” he said.

Also speaking, Dr Adesina Ismail, the President, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital Yaba, identified ‘family ties” as another factor limiting a good number of young doctors from migrating abroad to practice.

Ismail said that some doctors not only have their immediate family but also their ageing parents, uncles or other relatives to take care of.

He decried that the Japa syndrome had really affected and is still affecting the healthcare system in Nigeria, saying that the situation had resulted in excessive workload for the available doctors.

Ismail debunked the general belief that the “good hands” in the medical profession had all left the country.

“A lot of people say that the `good hands’ have gone, I strongly disagree with that, because, those of us who are behind are among the best as well, because from my undergraduate days, the records are there; I was the best in my set.

“But there are other issues holding some of us back like family ties among others.

“For instance; I have elderly parents. And just last week my Dad fell sick and I did everything possible to make sure he got the proper treatment.

“Yes, I can leave with my wife and children but I cannot go with my parents, uncles and other relatives who mean a lot to me; if I should travel, who will take care of them?” he asked.