Japa: Doctors knock FG ban on leave of absence

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) have faulted the Federal Government’s ban on the issuance of leave of absence to health professionals going abroad.

NARD and JOHESU said the Federal Government should rather address the pull factors making health workers migrate abroad in search of greener pastures, a trend popularly called Japa.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Tunji Alausa, had last Saturday revealed that the government directed that health workers going abroad to seek greener pastures must henceforth resign their appointments before embarking on such journeys.

Alausa said the era of health workers moving to other countries in search of better offers after applying for a leave of absence was no longer acceptable.

The minister said the ban on the leave of absence for health workers emanated from an Executive Order issued by President Bola Tinubu as part of drastic steps to combat the challenge of brain drain fondly called ‘Japa’ confronting the nation’s health sector.

However, the President of NARD, Dr Dele Abdullahi, and the National Chairman of JOHESU, Dr Kabiru Minjibir, on Tuesday, said the directive by the government was a knee-jerk and fire-brigade approach to addressing the brain drain in the country.

While the NARD president appreciated the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for making efforts to protect the health sector, he said the ministry was misinformed on how to protect and keep professionals within the system.

“Healthcare workers, like other civil servants, are being guided by the civil service rule, and healthcare workers leaving the country don’t take leave of absence, most of them resign and some abscond. Most of the people taking leave of absence are the ones going to come back. If you now say you want to deny everybody leave of absence, then, are you saying healthcare workers are not allowed to go for training outside of the country? What if the leave of absence is to go for training within the country?

“I get where this is coming from because different excuses have been given as regards why we have a shortage of healthcare workers in the country, which is not true. They say they want to increase the recruitment of health workers but have they taken raw statistics of what the recruitment has been in the last two years, and how many of the newly recruited are within the system?

“You say that you want to increase the number of medical students but have you looked at the training capacity of these institutions and what the output looks like? I think the ideas are good, but they are not well-researched, and the major stakeholders in the system are not being consulted to make these moves and if we continue this way, we will not get anywhere,” he said.



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