The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) urged the Federal Government on Friday to establish a Health Bank to encourage investment in the health sector and prevent brain drain.
Prof. Innocent Ujah, President of the Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Kaduna State Chapter, made the call during the virtual 8th Biennial and Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting.
Ujah, who is also the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Health Sciences in Otukpo, Benue, stated that if the bank is established, it will help private practitioners and improve health service delivery.
“We have witnessed how the Bank of Industry and the Bank of Agriculture are transforming the industrial and agricultural sectors.”
“It is past time to extend the gesture to the health sector in order to improve service delivery and reduce brain drain and health tourism,” he said.
Ujah stated that medical professionals were frustrated by a lack of investment in the health sector, as well as a lack of equipment and frequent strikes, which prevented them from performing their duties to the best of their abilities.
He claimed that the country’s health sector has been plagued by brain drain, with the country’s health indices ranking among the worst in the world.
He claimed that only about 40,000 of the over 80,000 medical doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria were practicing in the country.
“The current doctor-to-population ratio in the country was approximately one doctor for every 4000 to 5000 people.”
“This falls short of the World Health Organization’s recommendation of one doctor for every 600 people.”
“This means that we need about 303,333 new doctors right now, and at least 10,605 new doctors every year to close the health-care manpower gap.”
“This is especially troubling because Nigeria only graduates about 3,000 to 3,5000 medical doctors from the country’s medical schools each year,” he said.
The NMA president identified brain drain as one of the factors contributing to the acute shortage of medical doctors in the country, as a large number of them emigrate abroad in search of greener pastures.
According to him, brain drain is a major global health concern with disastrous consequences for the economy, public health, and security, particularly in developing countries such as Nigeria.
He claimed that Nigeria was one of nine countries that had lost more than two billion dollars in training doctors who would later migrate to other countries to practice.
Ujah defined health security as “the protection from threats to a healthy life,” adding that a resilient health system can halt an epidemic and prevent it from becoming a pandemic.
“One of the pillars of a strong system, huma resources for health, is depleted by brain drain, making the system vulnerable to pandemics.”
“As a result, the government must improve health care financing by allocating 15% of total budgetary allocation to the sector, fully implementing the National Health Act, and implementing other interventions to improve the sector’s delivery systems,” he said.