The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) FCT, has urged government at all levels to make the improvement of medical doctors’ welfare a priority to promote efficient healthcare.
The President of the association, Dr. Michael Olanrewaju, made the call on Saturday in a sideline interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the commemoration of ARD’s Annual Health Week in Abuja.
NAN reports that the theme of the week is, “Universal Health Coverage: Are we there yet?”
Olanrewaju identified poor working environment, dearth of manpower and infrastructure, as well as distant accommodation as some of the challenges being faced by medical doctors and other health care practitioners.
The president decried a situation whereby health personnel trained in the country migrated to other countries leaving a few behind to manage the sector.
He said it was unfortunate that the few left behind to manage the sector had become overburdened by the amount of work and the number of patients needing healthcare.
According to him, it is for these reasons, the dearth of relevant equipment, and the poor working conditions that some of the few personnel managing the sector are dying prematurely.
“When you open a facility you must not compromise the quality of care; in this regard you must ensure you have the right people there and also have the right equipment.
“If you do not have the right equipment to work with, better welfare package and good working environment you cannot function well as doctor,” he said.
Olanrewaju said it was a source of major concern that a lot of doctors working in some of the hospitals in the city centre, lived in the suburbs because they could not afford decent accommodation in the municipality.
According to him, most of the doctors experience a lot of stress due to the hurdles they go through in getting transportation to their various work stations among others.
He, however, emphasised that in order to improve quality of care for patients and boost the nation’s poor health indices, the welfare of health personnel among others must be given urgent attention.
He added that anything contrary to that would impact negatively on the health care system with the health personnel losing confidence in the sector.
“The major challenge faced by the association is that we are overstretched, majority of us are doing the job of four doctors in spite of the huge number of trained personnel in the country, which is not healthy for the practitioners as well as patients.
“There is now a concern for the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) about the massive brain drain of the country, now turning into `brain exodus’.
“Large number of these personnel migrate to Europe and South Africa for greener pasture, simply because our services are not well remunerated likewise other welfare packages,” Olanrewaju lamented.
Olanrewaju, therefore, urged the FCT administration and government at all levels, to provide decent accommodation for members of the association to enable them to play their roles optimally.
“The only way to curb challenges faced by doctors and brain drain is for the government to make efforts to attain Universal Health Coverage, in terms of improved remuneration for doctors.
“If we do not have better welfare package as doctors, we may not be able to give our best because our members are actually suffering in terms of accommodation.
“We hope that FCT minister will help in getting affordable housing for doctors in FCT,” he said.