US Don Tips On Ways to Curb Medical, Health Brain Drain In Nigeria

By Remi Adebayo

A Houston, United States based professor of Medicine, Adesuyi Leslie Ajayi has advised the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige to embrace measures, rather than his often vitriolic vituperations against medical doctors in curbing medical and health brain drain the country.

Prof Ajayi, in an article, “Mitigating Medical and Health Services Brain Drain” noted that despite the inglorious national reputation currently, Nigerians are highly regarded and are competitive in these medical fields.

"The incumbent Minister of Labour, is incapable solely, of stopping or reversing medical brain drain. His often vitriolic vituperations against medical doctors, however, and his sundry threats are very provocative, and have only exacerbated an already dismal situation.

“The young medical emigres are justifiably defiant and recalcitrant, as they feel unappreciated and disrespected.

“The fields of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Engineering and Computing sciences offer a highly lucrative international labour market and mobility,” he said.

Prof Ajayi however enjoined the Minister to “attempt a counter intuitive approach”, saying he could easily have an agreement with doctors to slow down the rate of exit by giving adequate notice prior to resignation, and/or ensure that replacement trainees are in place to ensure continuity in specialist care.

He noted that the retirement age of consultants in fields of specialist scarcity (FOSS) could also be extended to enable young retirees between ages 70 - 75 years provide health care.

In addition, the tasked the Labour Minister to travel to the US to meet with ANPA, and the UK Association of Nigeria doctors to ask for revolving assistance to provide critical specialists, skills and enrich the WAPMC and the NPMC and the tertiary hospitals.

With novel and out -of -the -box constructive thinking, the US-based medical expert believes that Nigeria could easily turn the brain drain to brain recirculation and ultimately brain gain without condescension or coercion.

He similarly advocated professional role shifting by training nurses in the rural areas under consultant supervision and the use of Telemedicine / Telehealth to monitor or follow up old patients with chronic diseases such as Hypertension, DM, CHF, stroke, Pulmonary TB, HIV and to reduce the need for direct physician contact.

“This has been shown effective in published studies in peer reviewed journals, world over.

“The current squeeze in medical and nursing manpower, is both a challenge and a golden opportunity, for the ascent of Telemedicine and Telehealth facilities and services in Nigeria. With vast ICT and mobile telephony creativity, if employed, can assist to achieve some respite,” Prof. Ajayi disclosed.