The threat of brain drain and burnout continues to impede quality of service delivery in Nigeria’s health sector as medical experts have expressed concern about the future of the professionals and how the continuous mass departure is exposing increase of burnout and poor service performance among workers.
The government doing little to curtail the menace of migration of these professionals, hence these medical professionals say that the rates at which doctors are complaining shows many of them are suffering over the course of their careers due to overwork or administrative pressure among other reasons.
These experts therefore say awareness needs to start at student level, calling for medical education to put more emphasis on doctors realising their limitations and recognising their humanity and fallibility.
“Burnout amongst health workers is a real thing. Firstly we health workers are also human and so in addition to life’s challenges; we get to share in that of others. You have to be rock hard not let in some of these emotions,” said Chioma Nwakanma a public health advocate and digital media strategist.
Nwakanma said that these sense of denial and false sense of immunity is why most break down and burnout at some point. “The work of a doctor is stressful and somehow unpredictable and this is worse off in a Nation like ours where workers are overused and underpaid. The country is struggling with shortage of staff and even lack of proper health insurance coverage for the doctors.”
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), a professional association of Nigerian doctors and dentists Nigeria has about 72,000 medical doctors on its registry with only about 35,000 practicing in Nigeria. More than 20,000 medical doctors are currently working outside the country and recent survey shows that 9 in 10 of doctors practising in Nigeria are looking to leave the country for greener pastures abroad.
The unfriendly work environment has implied that health workers in Nigeria continually find every possible way to exit the country, leaving behind a health system which many say is simply not working; not for the patients and not for the medical practitioners.
“Nigeria will continue to incur losses for every doctor that emigrates, as the country is been deprived of billions of dollars’ worth of invaluable investments embodied in their human resources” Larne Yusuf, a medical practitioner based in Lagos said.
Yusuf also said that the continually ignored current trend of scarce human resources for health professionals from Nigeria is not been curtailed which does not bode well for the country.
“Continued lack of investments in human resources contributes to further underdevelopment of the country and will keep her people in the vicious of poverty,” Yusuf said.
Human resources management in the healthcare sector is constrained by inadequate infrastructure, poor human resources planning and management practices and structures; unsatisfactory working conditions characterised by heavy workloads, lack of professional autonomy, poor supervision and support, long working hours, unsafe workplaces, inadequate career structures poor working conditions and poor compensation packages have contributed to the emigration from the country of a sizeable number of surgeons, physicians, nurses and other medical professionals.
“with healthcare professionals already insufficient in the world, the situation across Nigeria is no better as trends in human resources for the health sector has been a barrier to effective planning in Nigeria’s healthcare system,” said Ademola Aina, chairman Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria (HCPAN)
The implication of the continuous migration is that there will not be enough doctor to service the ever growing population, as it will further worsened the physician-patient ratio in Nigeria from 1:4,000 to 1:5,000, contrary to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended 1:600.
Nwakanma advised that the Government treat your workers and doctors right, pay worthy salaries and on time. She therefore calling on personal decision and goal oriented public private partnership in all aspects that concern the wellbeing of the doctors will go a long way in dealing with this.