Harry Bains, Minister of Labor –“All workers deserve stable employment that treats them with dignity…
The NANNM official said that with a population of between 160 and 200 million, Nigeria now has a ratio of one nurse for about 1,160 patients instead of an average of one nurse for every five patients.
Nigerian health workers have expressed concern over the growing number of trained and professional doctors leaving the country for “better working conditions and safety of life and property”.
Speaking on the PREMIUM TIMES Twitter space on Wednesday, health staff noted that the Nigerian system has frustrated not only doctors or nurses, but also many promising professionals to “consider living second class in countries strangers”.
The National President of the National Association of Nurses and Midwives of Nigeria (NANNM)Michael Nnachi, said that based on the statistics his office is currently compiling, as many as 50,000 nurses out of Nigeria’s less than 150,000 have left the country in the past five years.
Mr. Nnachi said; “There are more than 50,000 nurses who have left this country in the last five to six years. I feel bad for the health sector, but on the other hand, I also see them as nurses who are looking for their safety and a better quality of life.
“Looking at the healthcare workforce, nurses make up over 50%, and we are the victims of the terrible situations in our healthcare facilities because we are the first and maybe the last point of contact.”
Mr Nnachi, who said many Nigerian nurses have lost their lives in the line of duty and especially during the coronavirus pandemic, described it as regrettable that they did not list “a single nurse for the national honour” at the last national distinction.
“No one appreciated or celebrated what nurses do. Their conditions can be very critical even though they regularly die of COVID-19, Ebola and Lassa fever. Conditions of service are very poor, pay is nothing extraordinary, the standard of living is zero and yet we are at the service of humanity”, he lamented.
Regarding the nurse-to-patient ratio, he said, with a population of between 160 million and 200 million, Nigeria now has a ratio of one nurse for about 1,160 patients instead of one. average of one nurse for every five patients.
The doctors speak
Also speaking on the space, President of the Association of Resident Physicians (ARD) at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Dele Olaitan, said the reality is that “even the 24,000 doctors who would currently stay in Nigeria cannot be correct as many are leaving every day.”
Mr. Olaitan said; “Now in Nigeria we are starting to lose sight of the institutions that are part of the health system. Naturally we are supposed to have primary, secondary and tertiary health care institutions but due to the shortage of manpower work, we have a lot of patients who are meant to visit primary and secondary but go to tertiary health care facilities.”
He noted, however, that because working conditions are very poor, skilled healthcare workers are “unwilling even to work for the public system”.
“A lot of teaching hospitals are posting jobs and we don’t even have doctors to apply because they don’t feel the need to join the collapsing system.
“So unless we find a way to increase the total number of doctors in the system, it’s pretty appalling that we have so few doctors,” he said.
“Look beyond the doctors”
Meanwhile, in his commentary, an obstetrician and gynecologist who recently moved to the UK, Waleola Akinboboye, noted that it is not just Nigerian doctors who are migrating, but other professionals as well.
He said: “It is not only Nigerian doctors who migrate; for every Nigerian doctor who leaves Nigeria, there are approximately three to five nurses or even more who have also migrated. As many doctors are essential parts of care Health professionals, nurses, laboratory scientists and pharmacists are equally important, so we must also consider their migration.
“So the question we have to ask ourselves is, why are these people migrating? And I think the simple reason is that their existence is threatened on their own soil. So insecurity and economic reasons are the fundamental reasons and until we address those reasons, no effort will keep anyone in a hostile environment.”
Possible restriction to work in the UK?
Speakers also responded to rumors regarding the bilateral agreement between the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and the UK medical agency that all Nigerian doctors must practice in Nigeria for 10 years before migrating to the UK.
They said they would resist any attempt to challenge the fundamentals of labor mobility and that if Nigeria succeeds in its perceived attempt to force the UK to stop hiring Nigerian experts, many other countries would open their doors.
The secretary of the Association of Resident Physicians at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Ogunsanya Ayomide, said doctors would always travel to other countries regardless of the restrictions.
“The fact that they are trying to stop people from going to the UK doesn’t mean that medical staff in this country won’t go elsewhere. It’s not just in the UK that medical staff are going. makes in the world.
“In the last two or three years, most of the consulting professors of medicine have gone to Saudi Arabia. And also, even young doctors and dentists have moved to America. So the fact that you block a source does not mean that other places will not open,” he said.
While commending the government for the increase in the health budget for 2023, Mr. Olaitan, who is the new National Chairman of NARD, recommended the implementation of what is commonly known as the Abuja Declaration of 2001, which prescribes at least 15% of budget allocation to health.
“We have 24,000, but we don’t have facilities that can train as many doctors as we have. And we don’t have facilities that can absorb as many doctors as we have.
“So we shouldn’t let the government get away with feeling that doctors leaving Nigeria are our biggest headache today,” he said.