Nigeria Solidarity Fund (NSSF) has proffered solutions and recommendations to stem the rising brain drain in the nation’s healthcare system.
This is contained in a communique issued by Dr Fejiro Chinye-Nwoko, the General Manager/ Chief Executive Officer, NSSF, on Saturday in Lagos at the end of its talk shop on brain drain in the health sector.
The discussion was entitled: “Nigerian Healthcare System and Brain Drain — Step up or Sink”. NSSF said that the discussion was organised as an advocacy strategy with the aim of highlighting current challenges in human capital flight in the Nigerian health sector, and proffering solutions to same.
The discussion was also a rallying call for individuals and organisations to partner with the NSSF on strengthening the healthcare system in Nigeria.
The communique highlighted the following challenge’s in Nigeria’s healthcare system; poor working conditions stemming from epileptic power supply, dilapidated hospitals, inter-professional rivalry, security challenges exposing doctors to kidnapping and harassment from patients’ relatives.
Others included non-existent training opportunities, delays in payments of salaries lasting as long as 23 months in states such as Abia and Imo; and poor follow through of government policies. The communique argued that it was difficult to train a doctor today to replace the experience and knowledge of consultants who were leaving the country.
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According to the communique, the enumerated factors above are in stack contrast to conditions in the West, where salaries and emoluments are paid in a timely fashion; equipment are available and modern; and general conditions are conducive.
The communique noted that NSSF seeks to address this by identifying and funding high impact solutions in line with government strategies. “Support for human resources for health is in line with the NSSF’s priority of strengthening the healthcare system which is a complex system that is incomplete without available healthcare workers.
“NSSF pools resources from individuals and corporate organisations to support national response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has impacted various sectors and worsened migration of healthcare workers,” the communique said.
The communique, however, acknowledged the efforts made by government in solving the problem of brain drain. “This included: examining the statistics and the push factors, embarking on a reform programme chaired by Vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. “Negotiating for better pay and infrastructure, establishing the National Health Act to empower workers. “Establishing the basic health care provision fund, which was created as a source of sustainable and predictable financing for health. “Exploring mutually beneficial partnerships with countries that have high numbers of Nigerian healthcare workers in a bid to strengthen the healthcare sector in Nigeria.
The communique said that if the recommendations were implemented, brain drain in the nation’s healthcare sector would be a thing of the past. It said that the government should commit to implementing agreed policies such as hazard allowance which took eight months to negotiate and is yet to be implemented.
According to the communique, the government should convene roundtable discussions with relevant stakeholders to discuss workable solutions. “Government should identify data gaps and research agenda and use the information gathered to understand and address brain drain as well as the risks of the health care system completely breaking down.
‘Government should work toward increasing patriotism by meeting the basic needs of the average citizen and creating an enabling environment,” it added. The communique also called for regular disbursement of Basic Healthcare Provision Fund.