Former ExxonMobil exec agonises over brain drain in Nigeria’s health sector

From Joe Effiong, Uyo

Former Executive Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil in Nigeria Mr Udom Inoyo has called for an urgent multi-stakeholder approach toward redeeming the healthcare delivery system in Nigeria in order to cut back on the brain drain in the country’s health sector.

‘As much as possible [the] brain drain must be minimised,’ said Inoyo, speaking while receiving an award for his support to the health sector during the COVID-19 pandemic by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at its ongoing 2021 Physician’s Week which started in Uyo on Tuesday.

‘Truth be told, there has been a systemic failure across the board, and for so long. We recognise that you have complained severally gone on strike, adjusted where necessary, and like some colleagues, may have thought of or are still thinking about abandoning the ship.

‘But this is not the time to apportion blame but rather an opportunity for all stakeholders to row in the same direction. We must reset the clock and begin a journey of redemption for the general good,’ the Advisor, Inoyo Toro Foundation stated.

Inoyo, a specialist in Human Resource Management (HRM) and former National President and Chairman of Council of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management in Nigeria, said improvement in HRM is key to inspire improvements in Nigeria’s health system and check current decay.

‘To achieve good human resource management and health system strengthened in Nigeria, you as health managers must focus on delivering health benefits to everyone, especially the vulnerable. And to effectively do so, you must understand the interplay of human resources in this process.

‘Employees are the engine and live wire of any organisation. The recruitment process across the value chain must be above board – square pegs in square holes. Strategic planning and staffing are critical success factors.

‘Development and career planning must not only be deliberate but should be reflective of performance. Compensation and benefits must reflect the market and be transparently determined. Given the shortfall in human resources, task shifting is recommended. Ensure that your staff are up to date on global best practices. You must promote such practices that retain the workforce and halt regrettable attrition,’ he said.

In spite of challenges, Inoyo stated ‘doctors must continue to take pride in the profession and remain committed to the fundamentals of the Hippocratic Oath. You must re-skill yourself. No matter how difficult, please read and stay abreast of new developments in medicine and do not rely on past knowledge and experiences, as any misdiagnosis further erodes the confidence of your patients.’

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Governor Udom Emmanuel, who declared the week-long event open through his deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, called for improved healthcare delivery systems across Nigeria considering the present situation.

He celebrated the contributions of medical practitioners in the fight against COVID-19 and called for support from all stakeholders towards improving the state of affairs in Nigeria’s health sector.

While presenting the award to Inoyo in recognition of his support towards improving healthcare delivery in Akwa Ibom State, the State Chairman of the NMA, Dr Ime Udo, assisted by NMA’s National President, Prof Innocent Ujah, celebrated Mr Inoyo and partners for the donation of PPE units to medical workers in the state in the heat of COVID 19 and the procurement and donation of state of the art PCR machine to Akwa Ibom State Government.

‘If you go to Ibom Specialist Hospital, the PCR machine there was donated by Mr Udom Inoyo and partners”, Udo said adding that, while the 11,000 PPE units were donated by Concerned Akwa Ibom Professionals in Lagos (CAKPIL), an association Inoyo currently coordinates; the PCR 3 machine was jointly donated by Inoyo Toro Foundation and Stanbic IBTC Bank.

Prof Ujah, on his part, called for improvement in the healthcare delivery system, by asking for the augmentation of physician’s monthly hazard allowance from a paltry N5, 000 to a better amount and for the establishment of a Bank of Health in Nigeria.

The NMA National President argued that ‘if there is a Bank of Agriculture to incentivise agro-businesses in the country and a Bank of Industry to provide stimulus to industrial growth, there was no reason why Nigeria should not have a functional bank that supports the growth and development of the health sector.’

Nigeria’s former President Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Chairman, Seplat Energy Plc, Dr ABC Orjiako delivered keynote addresses on the theme “Nigerian in the COVID Era and Beyond: Health Systems Strengthening for National Security and Prosperity”.

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