National Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) on Tuesday appealed to government at all levels to create an enabling environment and provide attractive incentives for doctors and other health workers.
Dr Raymond Kuti, President, GMD said this in a communique issued at the end of the guild’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The theme of the AGM was ‘ Human Resource Management for Healthcare:Challenges, Strategies and Opportunities.’
He said attractive incentives could make doctors and health workers who had left the country come back home.
“Poor working conditions and weak infrastructure with chronic underfunding are compounding the issue with increased workload and overwork for those who remain in service.
“Limited career opportunities for advancement compounded by political interference and the lack of performance-based promotion.
” This leads to low morale and poor attitude amongst the health workforce and the pervasive challenging political climate and insecurity is an important reason for uninhibited brain drain,” Kuti said.
He said the lack of adherence to the Commonwealth Code of Practice for International Recruitment of Health Workers made it easy for other countries to recruit medical professionals with impunity.
Kuti said the guild had however identified strategies that can be adopted by government and private sector organisations to retain doctors in Nigeria and curb brain drain.
Kuti sai’: ”One of such strategies is for the organisations to provide career advancement programmes and opportunities by investing in training, learning and development programs to keep abreast of new innovations.
“Develop and implement enhanced health sector salary and incentives schemes especially in deprived areas to improve quality of life.
“Skills such as effective communications, resilience, leadership, emotional intelligence, empathy, and quality assurance management must be actively taught to health professionals-starting early in schools.
” This will also help to improve communication channels and provide effective, ethical leadership and governance in healthcare institutions,” he said.
Kuti also said the Human Resources (HR) management was imperative to ease burnout and minimize dissatisfaction while improving work-life balance for healthcare professionals.
He said solutions to mitigate or reverse brain drain among healthcare workers in Nigeria must be practical and adopt a systemic approach, adding, ”there are short and long-term strategies.”
Kuti said the large contingent of health workers in the diaspora was a pool of great resources that the nation can still benefit from through skills transfer, mentorship and the use of technology.
He urged that innovative approaches to increasing the pool of health workers available should be explored.
“This includes elimination of roodblocks such as licensing of doctors that discourage middle-level doctors from coming back to Nigeria.
” Rehiring of retired physicians on retainership or contract hosis to fill in the gaps created by doctors who have left the country and to also use their wealth of experience to mentor younger doctors,” Kuti said.
He said the guild would engage with the government and all stakeholders in the implementation of the WHO policy on towns in advanced countries poaching healthcare workers from developing nations.
Kuti also said: ”The guild would promote multilateral negotiations between Nigeria and the key countries doctors and other health workers emigrate to so as to secure controlled emigration on more profitable terms for the country.
“Resuscitation of an abandoned exchange programme that allowed residents and other cadres of health workers to go overseas for a specified period for specialised training and then come back to give back. “Likewise, Nigerian resident doctors in training in the diaspora should be able to come home for short, specialised training periods that will be counted as part of their training,” he said.