Chairman of the Committee of Chief Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals, Prof. Emem Bassey, on Wednesday, said other African countries are now offering mouth-watering offers to Nigerian medical doctors and other health professionals.
Bassey disclosed that countries like Sierra Leone and Gambia offer them between $3000 and $4000, which was about three to four times what they currently earn in Nigeria.
The University of Uyo Teaching Hospital CMD warned that the health sector is currently undergoing a major crisis following the high level of brain drain that has hit the health sector.
He also blamed doctors’ frequent strikes on the failure of government to fulfill its promises.
Bassey spoke while appearing before the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee probing employment racketeering in Federal Government agencies, alongside the heads of other health institutions in the country.
Bassey said, “Some African countries are also beginning to poach from Nigeria. The West Coast is looking for our specialists. So many people are now going to places like Sierra Leone and Gambia and the wages they earn $3000 to $ 4000. It is about three to four times what they earn back home. So we are beginning to see that people are leaving for other African countries too.
“The health sector is currently undergoing a major crisis in terms of manpower. What we are seeing is that medical specialists, not just doctors, even nurses, in fact, even more nurses are leaving. Doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, radiographers, and all manner of health professionals are leaving the country in droves.
“That is part of the problem we are facing. Replacement of these health workers is a major problem. This is because even though we are usually granted approvals to recruit, getting the waivers is a tortuous process.”
He said due to the urgency of the need to replace various health professionals who leave, it is difficult to comply with Federal character in recruitment.
Bassey also noted that previous governments had reached ridiculous agreements because of their urgent need to end strikes.
He added, “A strike should be the very last option, but one of the things we have seen has been the fact that we see threats and threats and threats. I would say, that governments in the past sitting had negotiated resolutions that are not feasible, just because they want to end a strike.
“Now, they have agreements that they cannot implement. And then after a certain period, six months or one year and you have not implemented it, people now go on strike. So, we need to sit down together and negotiate.”
Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi, urged the doctors to be patriotic by staying back to contribute to the development of the country, even if they have better options abroad.
Gagdi said the committee would work towards addressing the need to balance compliance to the spirit of federal character and filling up urgent vacancies in the health sector.
He said, “I admit there is a lack of advanced medical facilities in our health sector. This is a fact and we must as governments pay attention to that. Where we are confused is the aspect of lack of patriotism.
“You ( Medical doctors) are produced by Nigerian institutions. We admit the brain drain and are trying to find solutions. We are happy to see you here. A lot of you have connections maybe based on the value of your intellect to be in the developed countries and provide services to them. But most of you find fashion in adding value to your own motherland and fatherland.
“What are you telling your co-professionals about patriotism, about giving back to the society that gave you the knowledge? We challenge you to be true to your own profession and the issue of morality. You cannot disown your father no matter how poor he is for taking you this far to go and adopt somebody’s father. Nigeria is our country.
“Nigeria produced us as medical doctors, no matter the rot within our public sector in terms of remuneration. Let us work together and see how we can find solutions to that. But let us remain in Nigeria to serve our own country.
“We would review your submissions entirely. For these institutions that have pending recruitment cases, we would interface with them uniquely. For those of you who don’t have one, we will look into your issue.
“You have a very good defence for now having a balanced sheet in terms of federal character. Nigerians have listened to you. So, whatever this committee at the end of the day recommends to the government it is going to be done and it is for our own good entirely.”`