Nigerian Healthcare Faces Crisis as Medical Professionals Emigrate Abroad

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Nigerian Healthcare Faces Crisis as Medical Professionals Emigrate Abroad
Nigerian Medical Experts Sought After by Other Nations

In a concerning revelation, Prof. Emem Bassey, the Chairman of the Committee of Chief Medical Directors/Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals, has drawn attention to a deepening crisis in Nigeria’s health sector. The country is grappling with a severe shortage of medical professionals as a growing number of highly skilled doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, and radiographers are leaving for opportunities abroad. Prof. Bassey, who also serves as the CMD of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, delivered this alarming message during his appearance before the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee, which is currently investigating employment racketeering within Federal Government agencies.

One of the most troubling aspects of this crisis is the “poaching” of Nigerian medical talent by other African nations. Prof. Bassey shed light on the trend, revealing that several West African countries are actively recruiting Nigerian specialists. Countries such as Sierra Leone and Gambia are luring these professionals with significantly higher wages, often reaching the range of $3000 to $4000, which is three to four times what they can earn within Nigeria’s borders.

Addressing the legislative committee, Prof. Bassey emphasized the gravity of the situation: “It’s not just doctors; in fact, nurses are leaving in even greater numbers. Doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, radiographers, and various other health professionals are departing the country en masse.” This mass exodus has created a vacuum in Nigeria’s healthcare system, with a pressing need for replacements.

However, the process of recruiting and replacing these health workers is far from smooth. Prof. Bassey highlighted that while they do receive approvals for recruitment, navigating the bureaucratic obstacles to acquire necessary waivers is a cumbersome ordeal. This urgent need for replacements also clashes with the federal character requirements in recruitment, making it difficult to comply fully.

The chairman of the ad hoc committee, Yusuf Gagdi, shared his perspective on the matter, acknowledging the lack of advanced medical facilities in Nigeria’s health sector. He underscored the importance of addressing this issue at the government level. Gagdi urged medical professionals to consider their patriotism, encouraging them to stay and contribute to the development of their home country.

Gagdi stated, “While we admit the challenges within our health sector, including the lack of advanced facilities, the aspect of lack of patriotism puzzles us. It’s important to remember that you were educated in Nigerian institutions.”

As the committee continues its investigations, it’s clear that urgent action is required to stem the outflow of skilled medical professionals from Nigeria. The nation’s healthcare system faces a critical juncture, and both short-term and long-term strategies must be devised to ensure the availability of essential healthcare services for the population.

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