The committee on health sector reform set up by the Federal Government to look into the issue of brain drain, strikes and related issues in the sector has commenced sitting.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the committee, set up in February, was eventually inaugurated on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, and given four weeks to submit its report. Already, the members of the committee, including medical associations, regulators and other stakeholders, have started making presentations.
The Chief Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre in Abuja, Prof Saad Ahmed, in February confirmed to Sunday PUNCH that brain drain had become a matter of concern and that the committee would receive memoranda from members of the public to enrich its deliberations.
Ahmed had said, “The issue of brain drain is of serious concern which, as a committee of CMDs, we were able to raise. I can tell you that the government has already set up a committee at the moment on health sector reform to look at the health sector, to see areas where they need to reform to stop restiveness and the brain drain that we currently have.
“At the moment, that committee is calling for a memorandum from members of the public and other stakeholders to help it in its assignment.”
There have been concerns over the number of doctors, nurses and other professionals leaving the country. The impact of the gradual decline in personnel and the lack of access to medical care has also been of concern. The Nigerian Medical Association said in April that 9,000 doctors left Nigeria for the United States, United Kingdom and Canada in two years. It later pointed out that 2,000 doctors left the country yearly.
Meanwhile, in an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, the President, Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, Dr Victor Makanjuola, confirmed that the committee had begun sitting. He lamented that a lot of consultants had also left the country, adding that the committee was expected to make recommendations on the short, medium and long-term solutions to the trend.
He stated, “The inauguration of the committee was done last week Wednesday (September 14, 2022) and we had another meeting on Wednesday (September 21) where we made presentations and different organisations, including the regulatory bodies like the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and the rest, were there.
“Presentations were made and hopefully, we will convene again next week or at the shortest possible time to be able to meet that four-week deadline for the government to come up with some policies to address this matter.”