A Professor of Psychiatry, Prof. Taiwo Sheikh, says the psychiatric profession is the worst hit by the trending brain drain syndrome ongoing in the Nigerian medical sector.
Mr Sheikh, the immediate Past President of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, APN, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Thursday.
According to him, the effects of the brain drain impact more on the practice than other professions in terms of psychiatric nurses, psychiatric doctors including caregivers and health workers in the field.
He said that for every five psychiatric doctors trained in Nigeria, three out of them leave the country to practise abroad.
Mr Sheikh, also a lecturer with the Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, lamented that the country had the requisites to train medical personnel, but lacked the ability to maintain, retain and sustain them.
The professor noted that having a psychiatric qualification, experience or certificate was a visa on its own because medical institutions abroad are always looking for such personnel and ready to offer good or enticing remuneration.
“Many practitioners in the psychiatric field have left the country to practise abroad.
“As I am talking to you now, one psychiatric practitioner somewhere is leaving or planning to leave the country to practice abroad, and it is as rampant as that.
“In Nigeria, we have only 300 psychiatric doctors and about 2,000 psychiatric nurses and they are moving.
“In U.S. alone, we have over 1,000 psychiatrists excluding the nurses. Similarly, in U.K., Canada and alike, it is almost the same number.
“So, over 5,000 Nigerian psychiatric practitioners are practising outside the country to the detriment of the Nigerian economy,” Sheikh told NAN.
The APN President, however, said that the psychiatric/mental health system had been ignored and neglected in the country.
Mr Sheikh, therefore, called on the Federal Government to pay attention to the mental health system of the country to prioritise welfare of the medical practitioners in it.
According to him, the reasons for the incessant migration of psychiatric personnel are not far-fetched.
He listed the reasons to include poor remuneration, neglect of mental health, lack of working facilities, poor working conditions, inflation, lack of incentives, insecurity to economic hardship, among others.
“Though there are different reasons why people migrate, but if the basic ones can be provided, it will go a long to retain many in the country.
“The society, particularly the government, should learn to recognise and appreciate mental health, because it is as important as physical health and there’s no health without mental health.
“Let the Federal Government sign the Mental Health Bill before the National Assembly; it will go a long way to clear the ground and create recognitions for mental health in Nigeria.
“The National Mental Health Service Delivery Policy is due for revision, let it be revised,” Mr Sheikh said.