The National Hospital, Abuja (NHA) has lost the services of over 500 health personnel, especially doctors and nurses, in search of greener pastures in the last two years. Prof. Mahmud Raji, the Chief Medical Director, made this known, stating that most of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists went abroad in search of better working conditions.
Prof. Raji said that the brain drain syndrome was an almost everyday activity as he treats two or three files of young people wishing to leave.
Said Raji on Sunday in Abuja: “The way they leave is a very hurtful thing for all hospital administrators.
“The most pitiful and worrisome aspect of it is the amount of money the Nigerian government has invested into each of these individuals either a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist, a physiotherapist or whoever it is that leaves.
“Sometimes, not only young people; some people have actually gone through the ranks with lots of experience that they could teach other people. So, Nigeria is losing so much, painfully.
“Here, we have lost a number of quite senior doctors, especially the middle cadre doctors, and the very young ones.
“Nurses have also left from the middle cadre and the younger ones. Some of our medical engineers are hotcakes outside and have left.
“I must tell you, Nigeria trains people so much, Nigerian graduates and staff are well sought after, all over”.
On reasons for their departure, he said that remuneration and job satisfaction had always topped the list.
Noted he: “For instance, if a doctor or a nurse comes here, he or she needs to see an environment that is quite serene, quite beautiful, even to rest in a very comfortable area during their one-hour break.
“At least you are able to have something to eat, replenish your energy before you go back to the next phase of work, but usually, in our hospitals in Nigeria, we don’t have such.
“In terms of the remuneration, it may not be as good as what you would expect elsewhere. Even though I must say the purchasing power in Nigeria is far better than the purchasing power elsewhere and our money is still able to buy something.
“We should also look at the unsolved problem of inter-professional rivalry that also eats into people’s psyche. People should be comfortable with the next person they’re working with, be it a nurse, a physiotherapist or whoever”.
Raji also said that the necessary equipment needed to work were not there and when these equipment are either non-existent or obsolete, the healthcare practitioners feel that more should have been done.
He, however, said that past governments had tried by taking very decisive stance on matters of health.
The current government has also put in a lot to rejig the health sector, he added.
Stated he: “From what we can all see, the current administration has actually rekindled that hope in us that in the next couple of months, at couple of years, we will be able to see a change or a shift in this mindset among Nigerian health professionals eager to leave the country.
“Hopefully, we should even be able to attract them to come back while we retain the ones that are here”.
He, however, said that NHA had employed various strategies to try to retain the healthcare personnel working in it.
Said Raji: “I may not be able to change their remuneration since this is within the purview of government, we try to pacify them because remuneration is usually the first thing people complain about.
“Secondly, in terms of welfare, at least we have tried as much as possible to relieve some of them.
“We have established cooperatives to assist staff, either financially or in whichever way they can be supported to get mortgages for their homes and other things.
“On our own, we sometimes get these mortgage organisations to come and assist our staff. We have been able to get some buses to relieve the stress that the staff get in conveying themselves from work back home and from home to work.
“We are trying to also make the environment where they work a bit more serene and accommodating for them. This would require a lot of funding, but at least with the little that we are able to get, we are able to do bit by bit”.