Dr. Orji Innocent, President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), expressed concern about the large number of members of the association leaving the country for greener pastures, claiming that the association has lost over 2,000 members in the last two years.
He warned that if the situation is not addressed, Nigerians may wake up one day to find that there are no more doctors in hospitals.
According to a survey conducted in December 2022, over 2,000 members left for greener pastures.
Meanwhile, the association called for increased budgetary funding of the country’s healthcare sector, to the tune of 15% annual budgetary allocation, to improve the quality of healthcare delivery.
The association’s president said that, “We did a study in September last year and we came up with facts that in a two year period, we lost 2000 resident doctors. From January to August of 2022, we lost 800 doctors that is to say we lose 100 doctors every month.
“I always say, as politicians are playing politics they should also pay attention to governance because it will come to a time when they will finish elections in February and March, and come back to find out that there are no doctors again.
“Even though we have a massive shortage of doctors, the truth is that we still have doctors in the street looking for employment but bureaucracy in the system is a major problem.
“We know that bureaucracy in government is to follow due process and so on but there should be a point to review whatever that is on ground to see whether it is working or not, there must be a mechanism for replacing clinical staff, who are leaving the hospital.
“Even if you do that, it is not going to solve the problem but will help to reduce it because people who are leaving are highly skilled doctors, even if you employ new people, before they would attain to that level of competence and training, it will take time, so the best thing is to address the reason doctors are emigrating.
“The reason doctors are leaving is not only for remuneration, they need housing schemes, car loan schemes and other things that even the government does not necessarily need to spend its money on, what it needs to do is just to midwife the process and get in private investors who would fund that.
“Another reason doctors are leaving is because of poor infrastructure. It is very disheartening that as a doctor, you know what to do to save the life of your patient and you end up losing the patient because of lack of infrastructure.
“If it happens overtime, you run into depression, this is not a joke, and the next thing you have to do is to move away and go to a better system. If the government wants to address this, there is no shortcut to it, it can address it.”
NARD then called on Federal Government (FG) to improve the healthcare sector and end the brain drain, “The National Executive Council welcomes the committee set up by the Federal Government to mitigate the brain drain in the health sector.
“The association urges a speedy conclusion of the task and immediate implementation of their recommendations to improve healthcare service delivery and reduce the emigration of skilled healthcare workers from the country.
“NEC calls for increased funding of the healthcare sector in the country, to the tune of 15 per cent annual budgetary allocation in line with the 2001 Abuja Declaration for healthcare financing in Africa and global best practices as well as the digitalisation of the healthcare services to improve the quality of healthcare delivery to Nigerian citizens.”
Protect our doctors – NARD
The President stated that the NEC urged the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) of the country’s tertiary hospitals to take responsibility for security in their respective hospitals, as NARD would no longer tolerate her members being assaulted by staff members, patients, relatives, or security operatives.
He stated that the association has requested that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) investigate and apprehend the perpetrators of the illegal shooting of one of its members in Delta, and that they be adequately punished as a deterrent to others.