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Nigerian Academy of Medicine Urges Government Action on Brain Drain and Announces Media Award

The Nigerian Academy of Medicine (NAMed) has voiced deep concern over the persistent brain drain plaguing the country’s healthcare sector. The exodus of skilled medical professionals, the academy lamented, has created a workforce deficit that poses a significant challenge to address.

During NAMed’s 2023 Lecture and Induction Ceremony held in Abuja, President Prof. Samuel Ohaegbulam underscored the need for immediate government action to curb the brain drain epidemic. He emphasized that the trend not only depletes the healthcare workforce but also leaves a void that is increasingly difficult to fill.

One of the academy’s key recommendations is for the Federal Government to allocate a more substantial portion of the national budget to the health sector. In accordance with the 2001 Abuja Declaration, which stipulates that 15 percent of the national budget should be devoted to health, NAMed called for this critical investment to improve the nation’s healthcare infrastructure and resources.

Prof. Ohaegbulam highlighted a staggering financial drain from the country, revealing that approximately $1 billion is lost annually due to medical tourism and overseas treatment. To address this crisis, he emphasized the urgent need to reverse the brain drain phenomenon and retain medical talent within Nigeria’s borders.

Inadequate funding, he stressed, is a major obstacle facing the health sector. Without adequate financial support, efforts to enhance primary healthcare, maternal and child care, and mental health, among others, remain futile.

Prof. Ohaegbulam drew attention to a stark reality—the current federal budget allocation for healthcare is equivalent to that of a single hospital in developed countries. The depreciation of the naira’s value, he added, has further exacerbated the healthcare funding crisis.

The consequences of neglecting the healthcare sector have been glaring. They include a surge in medical tourism, a worsening brain drain, increased unemployment among healthcare professionals, and a decline in the quality of healthcare services.

In light of this pressing situation, the academy recognizes its unique position and responsibility to spearhead initiatives aimed at revitalizing the healthcare sector.

Concluding the ceremony, Prof. Oluwoke Atoyebi, Secretary of NAMed, announced the launch of the Media Challenge Award. In partnership with the Development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC), NAMed invites health reporters covering primary healthcare to submit their published articles or documentaries produced since 2022.

This prestigious award seeks to recognize and encourage exceptional journalism that sheds light on the challenges and advancements in the healthcare sector, ultimately contributing to the betterment of healthcare in Nigeria. The call for entries is a testament to NAMed’s commitment to fostering awareness and expertise in the field of healthcare reporting.

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