NMA wants FG to create a health bank | The Guardian Nigeria News


The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on Friday urged the federal government to create a health bank to support investments in the health sector to curb the brain drain.

Association President Professor Innocent Ujah launched the appeal at the 8th Biennial and Virtual Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Association of Women Physicians of Nigeria (MWAN), Chapter of the Kaduna State.

Ujah, who is also vice-chancellor of the Federal University of Health Sciences of Otukpo in Benue, said the bank, if established, would support private practitioners and boost the delivery of health services.

“We have seen how the Bank of Industry and the Bank of Agriculture are transforming the industrial and agricultural sector.
“It is time for the gesture to be extended to the health sector to boost service delivery and curb brain drain and health tourism,” he said.

Ujah said medical professionals were frustrated with the lack of investment in the health sector, lack of equipment and frequent strikes preventing them from doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

He said the country’s health sector was in the throes of a brain drain, leaving the country’s health indices among the worst in the world.

He said only about 40,000 physicians were practicing in the country out of the more than 80,000 registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.

“The current doctor-to-population ratio in the country was around one doctor for every 4000-5000 people.

“This is below one physician per 600 population as recommended by the World Health Organization.

“This means that we need around 303,333 physicians now and at least 10,605 new physicians per year to fill the workforce gap in the healthcare sector.

“This is particularly worrying because Nigeria trains only around 3,000 to 3,500 doctors each year in the country’s medical schools,” he said.

The NMA president identified brain drain as one of the factors responsible for the acute shortage of practicing doctors in the country, as large numbers of them migrate abroad for greener pastures.

Brain drain has been a major global health problem, he said, with devastating implications for the economy, public health and security, especially in developing countries like Nigeria.

He said Nigeria was among nine countries that have lost more than $ 2 billion since 2010 training doctors who eventually migrated to foreign countries to practice.

Ujah described health security as essentially “protection against threats to healthy living,” adding that a resilient health system can stop an epidemic and prevent it from turning into a pandemic.

“Human resources for health, one of the pillars of a strong system, are depleted by the brain drain, which makes the system weak to cope with pandemics.

“The government must therefore improve the financing of health care with 15% of the total budget allocation to the sector, the full implementation of the national health law and other interventions to improve the delivery systems of the sector” , did he declare.

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