By Dahiru Mamman
Undoubtedly, one cannot overemphasize the importance of health. Doctors ensure that we stay healthy and when we are knocked down by diseases, no matter how severe, they perform their magic to lift us. According to Mahatma Gandhi, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This is what doctors across the globe do: service to humanity.
Although we get graduates annually, doctors are still insufficient not only in Nigeria but across the globe. These numbers are supposed to increase with the number of universities that offer medicine and other related courses, colleges of health and schools of nursing and midwifery. Still, unfortunately, it is not the case as our health sector is threatened by a ‘mortal exodus’ of health workers, which is termed “brain drain” in the health sector.
Recent reports from different media outlets show that no less than 727 Nigerian-trained medical doctors have relocated to the United Kingdom between December 2021 and May 2022. Between March 2021 and March 2022, at least 7,256 Nigerian nurses have left for the United Kingdom. This statistics is only on the migration to the United Kingdom. What about those that moved to other parts of the world? Most doctors were reported to have moved during the period the federal government failed to pay their hazard allowance.
With a winsome smile, I was pleased that we have home-trained medical personnel that are fit to work abroad, especially in places as advanced as the United kingdom. But on the flip side, my winsome face turns gloomy because our beloved nation is losing the scarce service of the medical personnel to countries that are supposedly ahead of us. So who should we hold responsible for the ongoing migration, the leaders or doctors?
The question is, should the physicians and other medics move in search of greener pasture because they are not paid hazard allowance or because the health sector is crumbling? One could answer in the affirmative because scholars like Adams Smith, when propounding price (for goods and services) theory, said the higher the risk involved in a job, the greater the rewards or pay if you wish.
So, doctors are exposed to severe danger because they fight a battle against soldiers they can’t see: microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi etc.). Hence, they deserve a decent salary. But should the pay be the criteria for doctors to work? What about the oath they swore during their various inductions to “….treat human beings because it affects family members and economic stability….”
Should those in charge of the doctors’ welfare (government and other stakeholders) relent because their job is supposed to make them selfless? In negation, as they work round the clock to ensure that citizens are healthy for self and economic development, somebody has to look after their welfare since they also have a family to cater for. Aside from catering for their welfare, who should be responsible for providing infrastructure, medical equipment and instruments for treating the sick? We can say those that swore the oath to protect the lives of citizens are.
My call to the doctors is that they wear the white coat and scrubs with dignity and pride and strive to make the profession worth practising in the country. Even though the practice still saves lives away from home, they should know that they owe the service more to the country.
To those in charge, efforts should be made to do well by the medics to avoid further migration. Leaders, they say, make choices that keep them awake at night, and if they sleep well, it means they are not getting the job done. Hence, the situation should be tackled in a way that favours the masses.
If the issue remains unchecked, the wealthy will continue to relish in the comfort of seeking medical attention abroad while the masses or less privileged live in despair.
Mamman, a corps member, writes from Abuja and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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