By Ahsan Ahsan
CovidNigeriaMedics, a group of concerned and committed Nigerian Health workers at home and in the diaspora had organized its 1st webinar with a theme ;COVID19; Transforming Healthcare Delivery in Nigeria on Wednesday 19th August 2020 by 2 PM West Africa ( GMT+1) with about 100 engaged participants online and over 90 minutes engaged and robust conversation. This is according to press release issued to media by the group.
The lead speaker Dr. Jameel Ismail Ahmad, a Cardiothoracic Surgeon/Senior Lecturer with Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital & Bayero University Kano presented a topic: From Brain drain/Brain gain Theory, to Brain Circulation Paradigm; Rethinking the future of Health Workforce in Nigeria.
The webinar highlighted that the World Health Organisation had estimated a global shortage of health workers of more than 4 million and the Sub-Saharan Africa was found to have the highest rate of Physicians Brain drain with an average rate of 20% compared to 10% in other regions. Nigeria with a population of about 200 million has a Healthcare budget that is about 3.6% of Nigeria’s GDP with a weak Healthcare system and massive infrastructural gap as well as massive brain drain of its healthcare workers.
Also the webinar observed that only half of the 74,543 registered doctors are estimated to be in Nigeria, with some late and many internally or externally drained. Thus, based on the WHO estimates of Doctor: Patient ratio of 1:600, Nigeria requires more than 300,000 doctors and so there is doctor’s deficit of about 260,000 and requires producing 10,000 retainable doctors yearly for several years.
It also defined ‘Brain-drain’ of healthcare workers as “the movement of health personnel in search of a better standard of living and life quality, higher salaries, access to advanced technology and more stable political conditions in different places worldwide’’. It was estimated that Nigeria lost about $2 billion in training of doctors who migrate to other countries.
It also dwelled on ‘Brain Circulation’ in Health and defined it as a “circular mobility of skilled labour across international boundaries…..it is a concept to mitigate brain drain in Africa and improve Diaspora-Africa cooperation in the field of science and technology.” The webinar also highlighted that, to ensure Brain Circulation; a transparent enabling environment must be provided with solid health administrative policy, workable and sincere healthcare financing, improved healthcare spending and expanding access to quality medical education to ramp-up the healthcare workers deficits, improve ease of doing business for healthcare Start-ups and public-private partnership projects to mention but few.
The webinar in conclusion has mad the following recommendations.
- Nigeria should explore Healthcare Brain Circulation and enhance Knowledge and skills transfers (Virtual and Physical) among Nigerians at home and in diaspora.
- Enhance Research Collaboration and Medipreneurship collaboration among Nigerians at home and in diaspora.
- Improve and modifying work schedule and remuneration of healthcare workers.
- Improve welfare packages of health workers (housing, vehicle, children’s education, health, and life insurance.)
- Enhance Digital and Tele medicine
- As the Covid-19 further worsen the health workforce in Nigeria, CovidNigeriaMedics, as a group is called upon to step up engagement and dialogue with Nigerian policy makers both at national and state levels on the concept of Brain Circulation.