The Nigeria Solidarity Fund (NSSF) has proposed solutions and recommendations to stem the nation’s healthcare system’s brain drain.
This is contained in a communique issued on Saturday in Lagos by Dr. Fejiro Chinye-Nwoko, the General Manager/ Chief Executive Officer, NSSF, after its talk on brain drain in the health sector.
The topic of the discussion was “Nigeria’s Healthcare System and Brain Drain — Step Up or Sink.”
According to the NSSF, the discussion was organized as part of an advocacy strategy to highlight current challenges in human capital flight in the Nigerian health sector and propose solutions.
The discussion also served as a rallying cry for individuals and organizations to join forces with the NSSF to strengthen Nigeria’s healthcare system.
Poor working conditions due to epileptic power supply, dilapidated hospitals, inter-professional rivalry, and security challenges exposing doctors to kidnapping and harassment from patients’ relatives were highlighted in the communique.
Others included a lack of training opportunities, salary delays of up to 23 months in states such as Abia and Imo, and poor implementation of government policies.
According to the communique, it is difficult to train a doctor today to replace the experience and knowledge of consultants leaving the country.
According to the communique, the aforementioned factors are in stark contrast to conditions in the West, where salaries and emoluments are paid on time, equipment is readily available and modern, and overall conditions are favorable.
According to the communique, the NSSF intends to address this by identifying and funding high-impact solutions that align with government strategies.
“Support for Human Resources for Health is consistent with the NSSF’s priority of strengthening the healthcare system, which is a complex system that would be ineffective without available healthcare workers.”
“The NSSF pooled resources from individuals and corporate organizations to support the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted various sectors and exacerbated migration of healthcare workers,” according to the communique.
However, the communique acknowledged the government’s efforts to address the issue of brain drain.
“This included looking at the statistics and the push factors, as well as launching a reform program led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.”
“Bargaining for better pay and infrastructure, as well as establishing the National Health Act to empower workers.”
“Creating the Basic Health Care Provision Fund is a source of sustainable and predictable health financing.”
“Exploring mutually beneficial partnerships with countries that employ a large number of Nigerian healthcare workers to strengthen Nigeria’s healthcare sector.”
According to the communique, if the recommendations are followed, brain drain in the nation’s healthcare sector will be a thing of the past.
It stated that the government should commit to putting agreed-upon policies into action, such as the hazard allowance, which took eight months to negotiate and is still not in place.
The communique recommends that the government hold roundtable discussions with relevant stakeholders to discuss workable solutions.
“The government should identify data gaps and research agendas, and then use the information gathered to understand and address brain drain as well as the risks of the health-care system collapsing completely.”
‘The government should work to increase patriotism by meeting the basic needs of the average citizen and creating a conducive environment,’ it continued.
The communique also demanded that the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund be disbursed regularly.