Nigerian government encourages health workers to ‘Japa’ if need arises

The Nigerian government has placed a ban on leave of absence for health professionals relocating abroad, a decision taken to combat the challenge of brain drain fondly called ‘Japa Syndrome’ confronting the health sector.

Penpushing reports that the Minister of State for Health, Tunji Alausa, made this known on Saturday during his visit to the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro in Abeokuta, stating that those interested to ‘Japa’ are free to go in seeking greener pastures

The Minister, however, declared the only condition was that health workers going abroad to seek greener pastures must henceforth resign their appointment before embarking on such journeys, emphasizing that the directive was contained in an Executive Order issued by President Bola Tinubu, adding that the government had commenced aggressive recruitment of workers in the health sector.

Penpushing further reports that Alausa said the annual enrollment of nurses which used to be about 28,000 had been increased to 68,000 adding that by the end of the year, it would have gone up to 120,000.

‘It is a free world. But, you cannot eat your cake and have it. If you are going, just resign your appointments with the federal government, rather than applying for leave of absence. That is the Presidential Executive Order which has been communicated to all the Chief Medical Directors of Federal Government owned health facilities to implement,” he said

The Minister stated that the President acknowledged the people as the country’s biggest asset and vowed to take proactive measures to improve the health sector for their benefit, and on manpower shortage in the health sector, he disclosed that the president had ordered massive recruitment of personnel to bridge the gap.

“In addition to the massive engagement of nurses, we have equally doubled our enrollment for doctors, dentists and pharmacists. However, the government has not prohibited anyone who wants to move to the UK or Australia to take up appointments not to do so.

Penpushing also reports that Alausa explained that the challenge had been that many health professionals who applied for leave of absence would travel outside the country to practice and make money, yet their names would still be on the payroll of the government.

“So, to resolve this problem, the president has directed that any health worker going abroad to work should just resign his or her appointment. This way, you won’t be blocking others who want to work,” he said

Penpushing reports that the Minister, responding to demands on increased funding, infrastructural development and welfare packages for health workers assured that his ministry would leave no stone unturned to improve the fortunes of the health sector in the country.

The Minister, however, commended the Provost and Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Prof Paul Agboola, for his commitment towards providing qualitative healthcare for Nigerians.

Penpushing further reports that Agboola earlier in his speech hailed the minister for his selflessness and passion to turn things around for good in the health sector, noting that as a result of the approval given by the minister, the hospital had embarked on many new projects, including a 40-bed mother-and-child hospital.

The Chief Medical Director said that his administration remained committed to doing everything necessary and possible to continually make the hospital the centre of excellence in neuro-psychiatry across the globe.

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