TOPSHOT - A nurse from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) surgical unit in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, on November 19, 2022 speaks with Rebecca Nzengi, 22, while receiving medical care after being wounded with a machete to the head. - Since October 2022, fighting, sometimes in populated areas, has resumed between the army and the M23 rebellion, accused by a United Nations report of being supported by the Rwandan army. People wounded during the conflict managed to reach the city of Goma and are cared for by the ICRC. The international organisation denounces the absence of a humanitarian corridor that allows the wounded to cross the front line, some 20 kilometers north of the city. (Photo by ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP) (Photo by ALEXIS HUGUET/AFP via Getty Images)

The Federal Government’s prohibition on granting leave of absence to medical professionals traveling overseas has drawn criticism from the Joint Health Sector Unions and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors.

According to NARD and JOHESU, the federal government ought to focus on addressing the pull factors that cause health workers to migrate abroad in search of better opportunities—a phenomenon known as Japa.

Last Saturday, Dr. Tunji Alausa, the Minister of State for Health, disclosed that the government has ordered health professionals who travel overseas in search of better opportunities to resign their positions prior to leaving on such trips.

Alausa declared that it was no longer appropriate for medical professionals to relocate abroad in quest of better opportunities after requesting a leave of absence.

The minister claimed that President Bola Tinubu’s Executive Order, which forbade health workers from taking leaves of absence, was the source of the severe measures taken to address the problem of brain drain, affectionately referred to as “Japa,” that the country’s health sector is currently facing.

In contrast, the national chairman of JOHESU, Dr. Kabiru Minjibir, and the president of NARD, Dr. Dele Abdullahi, claimed on Tuesday that the government’s directive was a hasty and fire brigade response to the nation’s brain drain problem.

Although the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare was commended by the NARD president for its efforts to safeguard the healthcare industry, he claimed the ministry lacked knowledge about the best ways to retain and safeguard professionals in the system.

Like other civil servants, healthcare workers are subject to the civil service rules; when they leave the country, they typically resign or abscond, rather than taking a leave of absence. The majority of those who are taking leaves of absence will return. If you now declare that you wish to prohibit anyone from taking a leave of absence, do you mean that medical professionals cannot travel abroad for training? What happens if the purpose of the leave of absence is to attend domestic training?”I understand where you are coming from because there have been a number of unfounded justifications offered for the nation’s lack of healthcare workers.

They claim they want to hire more health professionals, but have they collected actual data on hiring rates over the previous two years and the proportion of recently hired employees who are already employed?You claim that you wish to see more medical students enrolled, but have you considered these institutions’ training capabilities and the quality of their graduates? “If we continue this way, we will not get anywhere,” he said.

“I think the ideas are good, but they are not well-researched, and the major stakeholders in the system are not being consulted to make these moves.”Abdullahi emphasized that in order to keep medical professionals in the nation, the government needs to address the causes of brain drain.The nations dragging them know they are skilled at what they do and depend on them.

As of right now, an Abuja dentist physician has been abducted. A doctor was abducted in Kaduna three months ago. The cost of living has increased, the facilities where we work are subpar, there is less security, and the power supply is worse. There is an assault case in the hospitals every week.

A patient’s relative beat a nurse at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital in Nnewi until she passed away because they had lost one person.”The majority of the university’s doctors are extremely poor and do not receive any kind of financial assistance.

In addition, there is the matter of our inadequate salaries and the non-payment of our arrears. Thus, these are all the variables that require our attention.”The main thing that causes people to leave is compensation. In order to verify the push factors, the stakeholders must be involved, according to the president of NARD.To stop brain drain, the government must respond to the demands of health workers, according to Minjibir, the leader of JOHESU.

He said, “We do not support the minister’s statement because what they need to do to tackle brain drain is to address the issues on the ground, and not to be issuing provocative statements.We have stated our positions that the issue of not implementing the specified allowances, the low pay, the appalling working conditions for health professionals, and the failure to provide the required equipment for health professionals are the main causes of brain drain.

Thus, let them deal with the problems so that medical professionals will not have to go abroad in search of better opportunities.

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