The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has called on the Federal Government to urgently address the brain drain challenge being currently witnessed in the health sector.
Prof. Innocent Ujah, the NMA President made the call on Tuesday in Abuja at a news conference to begin the 2021 Annual Physician Week of the NMA.
The theme of tthe week is “Nigeria in the COVID-19 era: Health systems strengthening for national security and prosperity”.
Represented by Dr Enema Amodu, the Chairman, NMA FCT chapter, Ujah said that the issue of brain drain among medical doctors needed government’s urgent intervention to put a stop to it.
He said that the consequences of turning blind eye to this challenge would be ominous earlier than expected if government did not do something about it.
He said that incentivisation of healthcare workers would motivate them to work harder and give their best as health “is a wealth and is better than wealth”.
He also called on the government to invest more and finance the health sector, adding that COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the poor management of the sector with dilapidating health facilities.
Ujah said that the rot in the health sector had necessitated the call for a total overhaul with the need to improve on budget allocation and effective implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
He also urged the government to enact a law that would make NHIS compulsory for all adults in the country as well as exploring alternative healthcare financing initiative like the proposed health infrastructural bank by the NMA.
“It is also pertinent to track the release and use of fund for healthcare services at the federal, state and local government levels.
“Government should intensify its efforts in the Public Private Policy (PPP) initiative.
“The health workers welfare including the commensurate payment of hazard allowance be implemented without further delay.
“Doing all these will definitely renew confidence, commitment and dedication to delivery of quality healthcare to Nigerian people,’’ he said.
The NMA President also condemned in strong terms the kidnapping and killing of doctors and other health workers by insurgents in Anambra, adding that government must do all it could to rescue the kidnapped victims.
He urged government to ensure the security and safety of health workers as well as that of other Nigerians.
He also called on state governments owing doctors their salaries and allowances to pay to prevent further frustration among the workforce.
Dr Maureen Umemnwo-Umeakuewu, the Vice Chairman, NMA FCT, said that the 2021 Annual Physician Week would be commemorated with free medical outreach in all its branches and FCT as part of its corporate social responsibility.
She said that the association would be sinking a borehole to indigent community along Lugbe/Airport area of the FCT to give succor and put smile on the faces of the people.
According to her, doctors do not only take care of the medical wellbeing of patients, but also take care of their social wellbeing.
She said that the recent cholera outbreak in some parts of the FCT prompted the sinking of the borehole to the community, adding that NMA would continue to do its best.
Meanwhile, at the opening ceremony of Physician Week, Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, noted that the Nigeria”s health sector had benefited a lot from the government through the advent of COVID-19.
He said that the emergence of COVID-19 had opened the eyes of government to a lot of things that the sector needed to benefits from and other things to be done in the health sector.
He commended the healthcare workers for the giant stride in the sector.