The President of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, Professor Akinsanya O. Osibogun, says Nigeria must urgently expand production of more doctors and improve their work conditions to reverse the burden of brain drain in the health sector.
He said it costs roughly $1.1million to train a doctor in the USA. “That gives us a rough idea of what medical teachers in Nigeria are contributing by producing over 3,000 doctors annually in Nigeria. Unfortunately, about a third of these doctors are now emigrating annually due to push and pull factors.
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Speaking during his investiture as the 22nd president of the college, Osibogun, stressed that human resource is the most critical of all the resources required to run health systems, adding that technology itself becomes useless without the human resource to deploy it.
He said investing and partnering with the postgraduate medical college would help to produce more specialists to address the country’s disease burden, and provide more medical teachers to help produce more doctors to serve more communities in the country.
National President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Professor Innocent Ujah, said the association would commence an annual lecture in April. “We are the custodians of Nigerians’ health, so we need to contribute to the development of health. We must stand up to speak, we must be seen, and we must be heard,” he said.
Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, stated that higher standards for medical and dental doctors mean better care for patients and better teachers for the medical schools.
Mamora who was represented by the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Professor Babatunde Salako, recalled that President Muhammad Buhari had recently set up a Health Sector Reform Committee headed by the Vice President. He expressed confidence that the committee would come up with a holistic report that would address the challenges in the health sector.
The minister said, “The loss of many highly skilled professionals from our country to the UK, Canada, Australia, UAE, South-Africa and Saudi Arabia among others continues to receive the attention of governments both at the federal and state levels. This situation has become a major challenge in the healthcare sector today. We must find a lasting solution to this challenge with a view to reversing the brain drain, developing sustainable skill transfer that will result in brain gain.”
The Federal Ministry of Health therefore sought to collaborate with the college on key areas including special funding for the National Postgraduate Medical College to accelerate training of specialists to deal with the current wave of brain drain; rapid deployment of simulation equipment and support for the proposed regional training centres to further strengthen residency training, among others.
The Federal Ministry of Health also appealed to the new leadership of the college to create greater collaboration and linkages with sister colleges within Africa and beyond and seek to widen the recognition base of the fellows of the college in the global medical community.
The college is the apex medical institution established by law in 1979 (Cap N59 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004) and is saddled with the responsibility for postgraduate medical education in all sub-specialties of Medicine and Dentistry in Nigeria. Till date, the college has produced over 7,500 specialists who are working as consultants in hospitals as well as constitute the bulk of teachers and researchers at medical schools at home and abroad.