The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), has called on members to take good care of themselves in order to deliver healthcare services to the public more effectively.
The NMA made the call at the Elders Hangout to mark the end of the 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Anambra Branch of the association in Awka on Sunday.
The theme of the AGM was “Mass Emigration of Doctors and Other Health Workers: the Origin Challenges and Solution”.
Emeritus Prof. Okechukwu Mbonu, the chairman of the occasion, said the call becomes necessary to enable doctors pay attention to their own health while taking care of others.
Mbonu, 83, called on the Federal Government to address the continued depletion of manpower in the health sector through the brain drain or outward migration of professional health workers.
He said the factors responsible for the ‘japa’ or the brain drain phenomenon should be addressed to bridge the widening generational gap in the sector.
According to him, “we should go for check up regularly, most of us take our health for granted, at 83 I still see patients, I operate without glasses, so doctors should take care of themselves too.
“The elders hangout is a forum to advise our young ones who want to leave the country on why they should stay back and be patient with the government.
“In our own time, before you graduate, you had a car to enable you to function well but today, some consultants don’t have cars. If a doctor is paid N800,000 here, in the UK he is paid 8,000 pounds, you can do the mathematics.
“The System works better there, no fear of insecurity or kidnapping, as I am talking to you a professor was kidnapped on her way to the clinic in Calabar, and there is no word after five days,” he said.
Also speaking, Dr Jide Onyekwelu, National Secretary of the NMA, said every doctor should have a doctor to manage his or her health as they were also humans who could be patients.
Onyekwelu said no doctor could treat himself objectively as they were advised as a matter of ethics not to treat their relations.
He said beyond complacency, the ‘japa’ phenomenon which had reduced the number of practicing doctors in Nigeria had further put pressure on available ones.
Onyekwelu commended the NMA leadership in Anambra, under Dr Jane Ezeonu, for its innovativeness and the success achieved in the last one year.
He said the young doctors’ summit gave the branch first hand information on the reasons young doctors always look forward to leaving Nigeria to practice in other countries after graduating.
Also speaking, Ezeonu, Chairman of NMA in Anambra, said the AGM which lasted four days was a success.
She said the AGM started with an outreach for the Police where it delivered free medical services to no fewer than 150 patients and donated some basic medicines and equipment to the Command.
She said the NMA in Anambra was worried by the brain drain phenomenon and decided to interrogate it with a view to finding possible solutions.
“That is why we had the young doctors summit where we interacted with newly-qualified doctors and those who had practiced for less than 10 years.
“We also had an AGM lecture on the brain drain which is hitting the sector,” she said
She commended members of her executive for their team spirit and expressed the hope that the ideas would be sustained and improved upon.