The House of Representatives Committee on Health has revealed that five wards at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) with 150 beds, have been closed as a result of doctors and nurses leaving the hospital for greener pastures.
According to reports, they left to pursue careers abroad, raising concerns about the decline in health manpower in Nigeria.
Dr Amos Magaji, the committee’s chairman, called the issue concerning and stated that the legislature was trying to halt the growing number of Nigerians travelling outside to get medical care.
He said the migration of Nigerian health workers overseas had set back the country’s health system and affirmed that “the japa syndrome will be curtailed by building state-of-the-art infrastructure and making the sector attractive and rewarding to workers irrespective of their fields.”
While speaking during an oversight visit to LUTH, Idi-Araba, the health committee chairman restated that “Nigeria as a nation has found itself in a precarious moment, especially in the healthcare system where japa has taken centre stage. We used to have japa only for nurses, doctors, but now it has even gone to many departments in the health sector.”
He, however, revealed that steps were being taken to halt the massive migration of health professionals abroad.
He said: “We saw significant problems here. Right now, there are about five wards in LUTH, totalling about 150 beds that have been shut down because there are no nurses and doctors to work in those wards. And these are a result of the ‘japa’ syndrome we are having.
“As a committee, we will work together with the Federal Government and also with the teaching hospital to find a way out of these national embarrassments that have befallen this country.
“It’s not something that can be fixed in one day, but nevertheless, we are going to be approaching it piecemeal. We are going to do what we can do immediately and what we can do long-term approach to it.
“So, by the grace of God, some of the issues of the ‘japa’, we are actually looking at how to solve this problem, starting even from the enrollment in universities, and then how house officers are employed, and then of course, the residency programme.”
He admitted that many health professionals in Nigeria work under stringent conditions and said: “We will also look at issues of funding. We are also looking at issues of infrastructure, because the truth is that, many health workers in Nigeria are working under stringent conditions.
“They have sacrificed so much for Nigerians to be healthy, for us to get proper health care. Our hands are on deck, and then that was the reason why if you were here earlier, you discovered that some of the key questions and some of the key things we attended here were things that have to do with delivering affordable and accessible health care to Nigerians.”