On The Recent Bill Preventing Nigerian-trained Medical Or Dental Professionals From “Escaping” Nigeria

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Ayinla Daniel Avatar

(Chief Editor)

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It almost feels like humour to me. I laughed when I saw the news and the “tweet” from the House of Rep’s official Twitter account. 

Take a look at it:

“A bill to prevent Nigerian-trained medical or dental practitioners from being granted full licenses until they have worked for a minimum of five years in the country has passed second reading at the @HouseNGR.” 

Humour me. 

Aren’t these the same folks who, at the slightest turn, run outside the country to seek healthcare? 

Of course, they can afford to spend millions [and even billions] of taxpayers’ hard cash in world-class hospitals in the United Kingdom, India, the United States, France and other developed countries while their home country’s healthcare ecosystem remains in shambles, save for the few innovative private hospitals dotting the landscape that are doing a good job but still need a lot of help to deliver more and save more lives. 

It looks as if these folks are taunting Nigerians. 

You refused to make the country conducive for professionals [not just healthcare professionals], and these professionals are looking for avenues to leave the country to better places. They love their country but can’t see themselves building the future of their dreams in a country that doesn’t value them. And now, you are trying to close the doors or make it difficult for them to leave?

There were times medical doctors and nurses were forced to hold peaceful protests because many of them were not paid for months [up to 2 years], and all you did was close your ears and shut your eyes to their plight. 

It’s humour. 

Isn’t it a shame that a country as big as Nigeria [with all the billions of dollars we spend annually] can’t boast of a solid healthcare ecosystem that can at least cater conveniently to the healthcare needs of more than 200 million people? 

Instead of our “lawmakers” sitting up and beginning to look for ways to repair the cracks and plug the leakages, they are busy trying to pass bills that will prevent healthcare professionals from leaving the country. 

These folks are not even worried about the current condition of the healthcare ecosystem in Nigeria–our understaffed government hospitals and overworked healthcare professionals who are passionate, intelligent, hard-working and ready to give their all but lack the needed support. The support they shouldn’t beg or protest for. 

And here’s Zimbabwe, also doing something similar. But theirs is even more vile and senseless–criminalising the foreign recruitment of healthcare workers. It doesn’t make any sense at all. 

“If one deliberately recruits and makes the country suffer, that’s a crime against humanity. People are dying in hospitals because there are no nurses and doctors. That must be taken seriously.” 

Mr Chiwenga, Zimbabwe’s Vice-President & Health Minister.

Is Zimbabwe trying to keep people in their country by force? Are they taking away their freedom of movement because they now feel the pain of many years of neglecting the healthcare ecosystem? 

Unfortunately, most African countries do not care about healthcare as they should. They allocate a tiny part of their national budget to healthcare and expect the industry to take care of itself magically. 

There are repercussions, and we are just beginning to experience the first hot waves of neglect. 

Stopping or preventing healthcare professionals from leaving the country is a temporary fix. 

It’s like using chewing gum to try to patch a hole in your exploded tubes

It’s Not An Emergency!

There were signs–written clearly. More than signs, clearly shown socio-economic indicators worldwide about the looming shortages of healthcare professionals. 

While some countries were trying to prepare for the future, countries like Nigeria didn’t care about it. 

And now that it’s dawning on us, it’s suddenly becoming a matter of urgent attention. 

With promises upon promises over the years to invest more in our healthcare ecosystem, several conferences, pledges, and ups and downs, yet see where we have found ourselves, still in the deepest valleys. 

When I hear the stories from our government healthcare institutions, I weep. 

In hospitals like UCH, one must wait hours before securing a bed space in the ER. People even die in the ER because there are not enough professionals to care for them. 

And the few people who want to avoid situations like the “UCH Situation” have to visit expensive private hospitals that can match the kind of expert/specialist care government institutions like UCH have to offer. 

Am I supporting the massive exodus of healthcare professionals out of Nigeria? 

It’s a two-way argument—a delicate one.

First, you can’t tell people with the experience and expertise who have the opportunity before them to get better lives to stay in a country that doesn’t value them. Here, patriotism has its limits. The “so-called” leaders aren’t even one inch patriotic.

Second, the country is literally bleeding to death. It looks as if we are abandoning a dying man. But what should they do? Die with the dying man?

Friends, the problem we have in Nigeria is the leadership. 

Many healthcare professionals leaving the country are doing it out of desperation. They deeply love their country. 

If the government can do something about the current situation in the healthcare ecosystem, fix it and get it running, I can assure you that many of them will stay. 

However, it looks as if it’s too late; where do they want to start? 

Fix infrastructure? Better pay for healthcare professionals? Improve healthcare insurance? Increase allocation to healthcare? 

And even if a hero or saviour suddenly falls from the clouds and comes to the rescue, how long will it take them to repair the cracks, build the bridges and plug the leakages? 

Four years? Eight? Sixteen? 

How many years? 

Nigeria’s case is like a sick man who ignores the symptoms of his illness until he can no longer eat, walk and talk. He’s almost dying. At this point, he now wants to get a quick fix. 

He wants a quick miracle!

Care City is an independent healthcare media and journalism company.

Ayinla Daniel Avatar

(Chief Editor)