The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has expressed sadness over the brain drain phenomenon that has hit the Health sector.
Gbajabiamila said a situation whereby over 2,000 Resident Doctors had left the shores of the country, with about 800 leaving in the last eight months, bringing the average to about 100 medical doctors leaving the country monthly in search of better working conditions, was unacceptable.
He, however, said the time had come for the government to holistically address the issues responsible for the negative trend.
He stated this in Abuja on Thursday, when the Executives of the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, led by its President, Dr Emeka Orji, paid him a course visit.
Gbajabiamila, however, cautioned that the issue of funding must be properly situated within the context of the prevailing global economic situation since Nigeria is not an island.
Responding to the figures of the Resident doctors that had left Nigeria due to poor remuneration, Gbajabiamila said, “That is a very scary figure and that is not very encouraging for a country of over 200 million people to have the core of your medical team, your young ones, resident doctors, leaving in droves like that, definitely something must be wrong.
“You have identified that to be the issue of emoluments, that’s always a very important issue. If you work, you must get paid and you must get paid a good salary.
While commending those who decided to stay behind despite the situation, Gbajabiamila said, “ I would like to encourage you to do is to tarry a while, be patient, and stay.
“As long as you have our ears here as your legislature, we will always, as best as possible, come to your aid.”
“So, let’s put a stop to this brain drain as best as we can whilst we, on this side, try to make the environment a lot easier for you.”
The Speaker also assured the Association that the clamour for an increase in the budgetary allocation for the Health sector to meet the 2001 Abuja Declaration of 15% of the annual budget allocation to health would be looked into, being a critical sector of the economy.
Cautioning stakeholders against the tradition of equating the Ministry’s budgetary allocation to the entire budget of the sector, Gbajabiamila nevertheless promised that the House would ensure that the sector was not shortchanged in the allocation of resources to it.
The Speaker also promised to look into the other demands of the group on adequate funding of residency training, restoration of the Overseas Exchange Programme, the need to amend the Medical Registration Act, and an upward review of the salary structure for Resident doctors, all within available resources.
He urged the Association to furnish his office with detailed information on some of the issues, saying, “I’d like to have some information on that in writing so that when we are making a case to the government, we will be able to furnish them with even more details, to know exactly what case we are trying to make.”
The President of the Association, Dr Emeka Orji appreciated the Speaker and the House for their successful interventions in NARD issues with the government in the past.
Dr Orji urged the Speaker to intervene in the brain drain syndrome that had hit the medical practice in the country due to poor working conditions.
He also presented to the Speaker other demands of the Association on adequate funding of residency training, restoration of the Overseas Exchange Programme, the need to amend the Medical Registration Act and upward review of the salary structure for resident doctors, among others.