By Kemi Yesufu
The member representing Ehime Mbano/Ihitte Uboma/Obowo Federal Constituency of Imo State, Rep Chike Okafor has identified the need to earn competitive wages and living a secure and safe life as the major reason Nigerian doctors and nurses are leaving Nigeria in droves.
Okafor a former chairman of the House Committee on Health Services therefore charged the Federal Government to improve the standard of living across board and also reduce insecurity to the barest minimum in order to retain the services of doctors and other professionals within the Nigerian economy.
He noted that countries have become markets where professionals whose services are sought after migrate to or remain in when they are sure of a good income, good education for themselves and their families, quality healthcare services and a strong sense of safety. He opined that Nigeria has to be repositioned to retain its doctors, nurses and other skilled individuals at the minimum.
The lawmaker who was speaking to journalists in Abuja on the 6th edition of his annual medical and surgical outreach, flagged off on December 12 in his constituency noted that the Federal Government must address the problems which make Nigeria less attractive to its own professionals and intellectuals.
He said: “Let not isolate the medical professional like doctors and nurses alone. We also have lecturers and other professionals picking up offers from Australia to Canada. The issues are fundamental and the first step to retaining our best brains is to address the fundamental issues.
“You talk about poor remuneration of doctors and many other professionals, you look at the value of the naira compared to earning better in a stronger currency. So, we should look generally at per-capita income of a Nigerian professional and even the issue of good infrastructure and security. I can tell you that about four out of ten people who want to leave Nigeria will blame it on insecurity in their part of the country or across the country”.
Speaking specifically on outcome of his medical and surgical outreach the lawmaker stressed that medical care needs to be taken to the grassroots as many cannot afford the interventions that will save their lives or allow them enjoy a better quality of life.
He said rural communities need a healthy population to farm, trade and contribute their own quota to the development of states and the nation as a whole.
He said: “Our annual medical and surgical outreach has become part of the life of our people. They look forward to it each year. I therefore am committed to it. I can’t afford to give any excuses. I plan for the outreach every year and we keep expanding the number of people reached and the life-saving interventions provided. We have gone beyond providing primary healthcare services to the secondary level where we pay for life-saving surgeries.
“In six years, we have done well over 750 surgeries, starting from cataract removal, hymenia and appendicitis surgery to fibroid and tumors surgeries. From the two LGAs we have worked in so far, to move to the final LGA, the medical personnel have identified 122 persons identified and booked for different types of surgeries and we estimate that we will have another 40 persons needing surgical interventions. So, we are looking at doing not less than 160 surgeries this year. The doctors have agreed that the surgeries will be done in January at the Federal Medical Centre Owerri. As with earlier editions we expect excellent results from the interventions by our partner doctors, nurses and institutions.
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