Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State has appealed to medical doctors and other health practitioners to show more patriotism by joining forces with progressive elements in the country to turn around the health sector.
The governor made the appeal on Friday while delivering his opening remarks at the annual conference of the Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Medical Centre chapter, Bayelsa Medical University in Yenagoa.
Commenting on the conference theme, ‘Brain Drain and Residency Training Programme in Nigeria: The Way Forward,’ he urged doctors and other professionals to make necessary sacrifices in building the country.
The governor who was represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, pointed out that although government had not done enough in terms of their remuneration and welfare, health personnel rank among better-paid workers in the country.
He insisted that the conditions under which doctors’ work have relatively improved compared to what was obtainable in the 1980s, expressing optimism that there could be more improvement in the near future.
He stated: “The theme of this conference is quite germane because we have a situation where some of our best health practitioners have left the country. I hope it will help the participants to think critically and make an objective and holistic comparison.
“While I agree substantially with all that he (the Lecturer) has said about the causes of brain drain in our country, I also beg to differ to the extent that, sometimes when you look at another person’s pot for too long, you end up with two things.
“You either end up stealing from the person’s pot or you end up trying to meet up on how to cook like him. Yes, we agree that the conditions in South Africa, the United Kingdom and elsewhere may be better than Nigeria.
“But can we actually say that our fortune has remained the same over the period especially from 1988 when the issue of health workers’ welfare was taken to the front burner? Yes, it is true that we are not where we ought to be. But definitely we are not where we used to be.
“I want to place on record that, if our salaries as health workers are no longer what they used to be in the past, do we really need to leave this country just because we have not got all that we want, forgetting that the greener pasture we are seeking today is made possible by the sacrifices some people made in the past?
“Today, if you compare what you earn as a doctor with other workers like teachers, policemen, accountants, soldiers and many other professionals, you will agree with me that there is a big difference. So let’s be a little more patriotic and optimistic of the future.”