• Sunday, June 23, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

How Ajayi’s mentoring programme plans to retain Nigerian doctors

Dr Ajayi

A support system for physicians in their formative years where experienced doctors share knowledge and experience by giving back to society has set out to help stem high rates of brain drain in Nigeria’s health sector.

Named after the chief executive officer (CEO) of Nordica Fertility Centre the Abayomi Ajayi Physicians Mentoring Programme tackles the big picture of massive brain drain in the health sector, which constitutes a huge loss for Nigeria given that Africa’s most populous country is indirectly subsidising the cost of training medical doctors for the countries where Nigerian physicians eventually immigrate to.

“Nigeria has been losing professionally trained health workers who have been the core of the country’s health system for many years. Faced with an increased burden of disease and coupled by a massive exodus of the health workforce, the health system of Nigeria is risking paralysis,”Ajayi says.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Africa’s largest economy is rapidly bleeding doctors. It has continued to train and educate medical professionals who have inadvertently found their way outside the shores of our country. They help build and sustain medical services in many countries across the globe, with the United State of America and the United Kingdom as leading destinations.

Recently, the outflow of doctors has seen Nigerians move to South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Canada and Australia. A recent NOI polls survey conducted revealed that well over 20,000 Nigerian doctors were currently working outside the country. The survey also revealed that 80 percent of our doctors working in the country were seriously considering leaving.

Statistics have shown Nigeria’s poor doctor-population ratio of 1:2753 as compared with the World Health Organisation standards of 1:600 and this situation has found many doctors operating like machines thereby not giving adequate time for patient interaction.

Graduates’ leaving any country in droves is a bad sign. In Nigeria, the reasons majorly adduced for this massive brain drain is due to poor infrastructural support for the medical services in the country. Many doctors decry the poor state of facilities in the various hospitals across the country and in a lot of instances, the obsolete nature of many of the machines they work with oftentimes negatively affects success in managing critical cases.

Poor remuneration is another critical factor adduced for the brain drain. Doctors believe they are poorly paid, considering their work as front lines in the face of hazardous work they do on a daily basis. Closely linked to their poor remuneration includes no life insurance to cover eventualities associated with the hazard of the job.

All fingers seem to be pointing to the government for not making significant investment in the health sector. The deplorable state of things has created opportunities for medical tourism in favour of foreign medical services.

It is estimated that Nigeria loses over $1 billion annually on medical tourism. This figure could have been invested in our local healthcare sector, which was the pride of Africa from the 1960s to 1970s with Nigeria as the hub for training doctors from across the continent, and patients receiving treatment in our hospitals, including patients from Saudi Arabia, a paradise today, where Nigerians now throng to for treatment.

In order to manage the outflow of medical personnel and young physicians from Nigeria, the Ajayi physician mentoring programme has been developed to enhance the career growth of young physicians and improve transformative leadership in the medical profession and the programme tends to facilitate, not restrict, the participation of mentors and mentees enabling them to explore the great opportunities created when two personalities are paired.

“We want to have a balanced profession, sometimes these young ones need someone who can give those words of wisdom that will help them to develop and discover who they are. We need Nigerian young professionals to know that there is a still future in the country,” he said.

Ajayi further said in Nigeria you can decide what you want to be because the opportunities are more and the country is thereby supplying cheap doctors to the advanced economies, keeping their health systems working.

Ajayi explained Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship which involves a more experienced person helping a less experienced person to identify and achieve their goals. Ajayi is of the opinion that Nigerian doctors have the professional abilities but may lack entrepreneurial skills required to take advantage of the country’s medicare ecosystem by creating innovative solutions that will be more rewarding for them.

“Nigerian doctors need a fundamental mind shift, which will create the turnaround for the country as well as the doctors themselves. I am inspired to help Nigerian doctors working in the country unveil their potential and return Nigeria to the path of glory in the community of nations,” he says.

He said the Physician Mentoring Programme has assembled successful Nigerians from diverse calling to mentor 12 selected doctors, tapping into the wealth of each mentor to bring out the best in the mentees. Ajayi said that this distinguished team is the resource base that through personal interactions with the mentees will drive a new thinking, fuelled by professional and entrepreneurial capacity building to grow a new age Nigerian medical doctor.

The mentors in the programme include Abayomi Ajayi, CEO of Nordica Fertility Centre; Lanre Fagbohun, a professor and vice chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU);Bomi Ogedengbe, professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology; Funmi Babington Ashaye, leading insurance practitioner; Ebun Adejuyigbe, a professor and dean of Faculty of Clinical Science Obafemi Awolowo University. Others are: Deji Adekunle (SAN), former DG of the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies; Nike Akande, renowned industrialist; Sade Ogunsola, a professor and deputy vice chancellor of the University of Lagos (Unilag); Adekunle Oyegade, MD, Mopheth Pharmacy; Rotimi Akinola, professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology – and President of SOGON, among many others.