Photo: Prof Emem Bassey, CMD, UNIUYOTH.
Brain Drain: Smaller African countries poaching Nigerian doctors with $4000 wage offers
Prof. Emem Bassey, Chairman, Committee of Chief Medical Directors/Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals, has disclosed that some smaller African countries are poaching Nigerian medical doctors and other health professionals with better salary offers to woo them to their countries.
According to him, even smaller neighbouring West African countries like Sierra Leone and Gambia are offering Nigerian doctors up to $3000 to $4000 in monthly wages in order to lure them to their countries’ health sectors at the detriment of the Nigerian health sector that is currently facing the challenges of manpower shortages in the sector.
Bassey, who is also the Chief Medical Director, CMD, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, made this known when he appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee probing employment racketeering and mismanagement in federal government agencies.
He noted that the health sector was currently undergoing a major crisis in terms of manpower, as health professionals were leaving Nigeria in droves to other countries of the world in search of greener pastures.
According to him, Nigerian medical doctors often embark on strike because the government has consistently failed to meet its promises.
“Some African countries are also beginning to poach from Nigeria. The West African Coast is looking for our specialists. So many Nigerian doctors and other health professionals are now going to places like Sierra Leone and Gambia, who woo them with monthly wages of 3000 to 4000 dollars, which is about three to four times what they earn back home.
“So, we are beginning to see that people are leaving for other African countries too. The health sector is currently undergoing a major crisis in terms of manpower due to brain drain. What we are seeing is that medical specialists, not just doctors, even nurses, in fact, more nurses are even leaving. Doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, radiographers, and all manner of health professionals are leaving the country in droves,” Prof Bassey said.
He also said that there was an urgent need to replace health practitioners, who have left the country, adding that it was one of the reasons for not complying with the federal character during recruitment.
“Due to the urgency of the need to replace various health professionals who leave, it is difficult to comply with federal character in recruitment.
“That is part of the problem we are facing. Replacement of these health workers is a major problem. This is because, even though, we are usually granted approvals to recruit, getting the waivers is a tortuous process,” he added.
Speaking on the incessant strikes by the nation’s medical doctors, he explained that previous governments had, in a bid to quickly get doctors back to work, repeatedly come up with agreements that were not attainable.
Bassey said, “A strike should be the very last option, but one of the things we have seen has been the fact that we receive continued threats. Previous governments would rather sit down to negotiate resolutions that were unfeasible, just because they wanted to end the strikes.
“They would come up with agreements that they could not implement. Then, after a certain period, six months or one year, and it is not implemented, people go on strike. So we need to sit down together,” he stated.