Mentorship for young medical professionals will tackle brain drain- Ajayi
Worried by the high rate of medical professionals leaving Nigeria to countries to seek better pay and work conditions, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi say, mentorship of these young professionals would tackle brain drain experienced in the country.
Founder and Medical Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr. Ajayi added that the mentorship programme is not just for medical doctors but young professionals in insurance, law and others.
Speaking with journalists recently during the Nordica Fertility Centre 2019 Nigeria’s Independence anniversary celebration, which was held at the Elegushi Beach in Lagos State, Ajayi said that he would have been a victim of brain drain, but for the intervention of a senior medical colleague.
Ajayi, who is also the founder of the Fertility Treatment Support Foundation, FTSF, stated that lack of mentorship is the reason for medical flight and poor number of doctors in the country.
He however lamented that, "this is why people die of preventable diseases in the country because the ratio of doctors to patients is very poor."
Ajayi, who spoke on ‘Live At The Beach,’ said, "We have been discussing the way people are leaving Nigeria, especially doctors. Nigeria is a country that doesn’t have enough doctors; how can we be losing doctors. I am not saying engineers and the likes of them are not important, but they say health is wealth. This is why people die of preventable diseases in Nigeria. And we don’t seem to be doing anything serious to stop it.
"So, what I am trying to do now is to launch a mentoring programme for young doctors because I was at that stage too, I would have left this country as a young professional because I was confused. And that is what is happening to many young professionals now. They are confused; they look at the future and they see nothing.
They think it is just to jump to another country, but most of them would regret this in twenty years’ time. I was lucky someone spoke to me at that point in time when I was confused on what to do."
With the zeal to impact on young promising professionals, Ajayi said, "So, one thing I owe younger doctors and professionals in other fields is mentorship, though I wouldn’t be able to reach out to everybody. I have spoken to some experienced persons across other professions outside medicine and they are interested.
"The launching of the mentoring programme for young doctors will commence soon. The first set we will take for the programme would be 25. We will mentor them for six months and evaluate if we have made an impact on them or not. This will determine if we would increase the numbers of mentors and mentees."
He also alerted Nigerians on the importance of taking proper care of their health, but noted that getting quality care was neither cheap nor free anywhere in the world.
Ajayi stressed that healthcare should be more of private-sector driven and reasoned that if not so operated, Nigeria would continue to build shades and call them hospitals.
Nordica's Managing Director who was celebrated by friends and relations at the occasion said that the poor percentage of the nation’s budget earmarked for health could not provide a 21st Century healthcare.
He emphasised that, "the private sector should be allowed to play the major role, while the governments contribute their quota at the primary care level."
However, based on the poor health indices being recorded in the country, high mortality, outbreak of new infections, brain drain of medical professionals, which is contributing to worsen treatment outcome, Ajayi has also urged the three tiers of government to increase health budget, while suggesting greater role for the private sector.
Speaking further in his Independence Day message, Ajayi said, "In spite of any challenges we can face as an individual or collectively, we as Nigerians should celebrate our dear Nation. Nigeria as an entity, which has given us the grace to be addressed as Nigerians, is worth celebrating, in spite of any challenges. It is not because we are fertility-driven that I am saying this; that is not the idea. The idea is because we are Nigerians."
In addition, he said, "I don’t like personalising issues because we are all faced with the same problem. I was not born with a silver spoon, I inherited nothing; it is by the grace of God and hard work that has brought me this far.
"What I noticed in our country is crash of values. We have missed it out in this country and not until we can go back to the things we do that made us great once upon a time, we cannot build this Nation.
"Though we are amalgamation of Nations, but we should respect each other’s values. Our structures are bad because our values has been thrown to the dogs."
According to Ajayi, "Some people shed their blood to make those countries we are running to today what they are. So, some people also must stay behind to make this country great for the coming generation to enjoy.
If we want this country to change for the better, you and I must first change ourselves. If all the reasonable people run out of the country, the country will be left with idiots, and eventually the country will collapse."
According to Nigeria's polling agency, NOI Polls, in partnership with Nigerian Health Watch in 2017, found that most doctors seek work abroad as nine in every 10 doctors are considering work opportunities outside Nigeria.
There are 72,000 doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, over half practise outside the country.
According to World Health Organization, WHO recommendation of one doctor per 600 people, Nigeria with its estimated population of over 180 million, there is one doctor per 5,000 people as stated by the former Minister for health, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole.
Medical schools and residencies are subsidised by government funds, an investment that is now benefiting other countries.