The Imperative of Reinforcing Nigeria’s Healthcare System to Bolster Medical Professional Retention
The urgent requirement for the Nigerian government and key stakeholders to fortify the healthcare delivery system nationwide in order to retain highly skilled medical professionals within the country’s borders has been reiterated.
Akinsanya Osibogun, an esteemed professor and President of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, emphasized this pressing need during his address at the 17th Annual Scientific Conference and All Fellows’ Congress held in Ilorin in 2023.
Osibogun astutely pinpointed inadequate remuneration and a lack of essential infrastructure as significant challenges confronting medical practitioners in Nigeria. He advocated for strategic interventions and a unified effort by all stakeholders to elevate the nation’s healthcare sector.
“In recognizing that the government alone cannot singularly address this issue, it becomes imperative for all stakeholders to collaboratively institute mechanisms that will drive the enhancement of our healthcare sector, thereby securing the retention of our trained professionals. The key to retaining these professionals lies in the improvement of their working environment, ensuring the availability of necessary equipment and tools that are indispensable for delivering optimal services.
“Remuneration for medical practitioners must be fair and competitive, while the overall environment must provide a conducive atmosphere to retain them within our borders.
“The current challenge we face isn’t the shortage of individuals to train; rather, it is the increasing trend of young doctors migrating out of the country. Recent data revealed that out of every 100 graduates, a staggering 50% have already left the country.
“We must strive to keep these young doctors within our reach, enabling us to train and cultivate them into specialists who will contribute to the advancement of healthcare in Nigeria. Our collective efforts will pave the way for accomplishing this objective.”
Osibogun went on to emphasize that the global demand for skilled medical professionals spans across regions such as the UK, Canada, and various parts of the world.
“In order to retain our proficient professionals, we must implement an array of incentives, encompassing both financial and non-financial aspects, which will encompass equipment and facilities essential for efficient service delivery and life-saving interventions.
“As a nation, our strategy should revolve around ensuring the accessibility of requisite equipment on a geographical basis, spanning from state levels down to individual wards.”
In his welcoming address, Professor Foluwasayo Emmanuel Ologe, Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee, highlighted the conference theme, “Improving Health Care Financing in Nigeria,” along with sub-themes that focus on “Technology in Medicine and Public-Private Partnerships.” He stressed the meticulous selection of professionals and scholars tasked with addressing the conference’s key topics.
Ologe expressed optimism that the outcomes of these deliberations would wield a significant influence on Nigeria’s healthcare system.
Similarly, Professor Adekunle Bashiru Okeshina, an expert in Psychiatry and Chairman of the Information and Publicity Protocol Committee, underscored the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria’s pivotal role in training specialists who are both academically and professionally adept.
“Our mandate entails equipping them with exceptional professional acumen, recognizing the unique imperative of healthcare provision for every individual.
“The notion of medical tourism could be mitigated through the cultivation of our own skilled specialists, who possess the capacity to manage healthcare delivery effectively.
“This conference is fundamentally centered on devising strategies to maximize the output derived from our limited resources. In times of economic strain, while funding might be constrained, our aim should be optimizing healthcare delivery to our populace.”
During his lecture, Professor Kanu Nkanginieme, an expert in Pediatrics and former Dean of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences at the University of Port Harcourt, advocated for a renewed focus on educational principles within Nigerian medical institutions. He delivered a lecture titled “Paradigm Shift in Twenty First Century, Nigerian Medical Education,” wherein he examined the challenges facing medical schools and suggested remedies.
Nkanginieme underscored the imperative of prioritizing productivity, credibility, and patriotism to address prevailing imbalances in medical education. He stressed the importance of embracing paradigm shifts, fostering self-motivation, and tailoring educational approaches to facilitate optimal learning outcomes for medical students.
Furthermore, Professor Owoidoho Udofia, a distinguished Consultant Psychiatrist from the University Teaching Hospital Calabar, offered insights on “Physician Well-Being and Burnout.” Udofia advised medical professionals to establish robust support systems and adopt strategies to mitigate stress and burnout, including embracing digital health solutions.
Udofia passionately advocated for physicians to proactively manage their well-being, seek solutions to challenges, and protect their mental and emotional health while navigating the demanding field of healthcare.
In conclusion, the discourse at the conference underscored the critical need for collaborative efforts to bolster Nigeria’s healthcare system, retain skilled medical professionals, and navigate the dynamic landscape of medical education and practice.