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Train health workers to tackle brain drain, Surgeon tells govt

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 By Dayo Ojerinde

A Professor of Surgery and Consultant Plastic Surgeon at the Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Prof Ben Jiburum, has called on African governments to train health workers.

Jiburun, who is also a trainer at the West African College of Surgeons, said this will mitigate the challenge of brain drain currently affecting medical practice in the region.

He said it was unfortunate that many African countries still had their training anchored abroad rather than designing local training schemes that are tailored to address specific needs of the society.

“Training is expensive, and facilities for training are limited. So, over time even the countries that obliged them as colonial masters don’t have enough space for their citizens. They will finish meeting their needs before allowing you to fit into whatever little space they have left and they are given you as gratis. Thereafter, they provide more incentives for you not to go back. So, the way forward is for training colleges like WACS to expand training opportunities.

“I am glad again that Smile Train is bringing awareness of the problem to the government through their intervention. There should be more interest in expanding training facilities, when you expand training facilities for the undergraduate, and postgraduate you are more likely to retain most of the manpower if you provide the enabling environment for them to stay. Presently, what we have is that persons who have been trained locally and are desirous of further training don’t have the opportunity. When they go out, the tendency is that they take what they are offered and not necessarily what they originally wanted to train in. Some specialties are more desired than others and that is natural, human beings don’t want everything to be the same.

“In fact, more than 50percent of the nations in West Africa currently still have their manpower development anchored principally overseas. If we can bring this down and expand the scope of training in this region it will go a long way in bridging the gap. When you train people locally, the tendency for them to stay back is higher.

“Smile Train, global cleft charity organisation dedicates itself towards quality healthcare capacity building and advocacy to increase access to safer surgeries in low- and middle-income countries,” he said.


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