Says Dr Babajide Alalade
More Nigeria’s medical professionals are migrating from Nigeria to other climes for a more conducive practicing environment. According to Dr Babajide Alalade, a UK based, O&G specialist and founder of Askthegynacologist Group, TALENTS will gravitate to where they’re respected, appreciated and are well paid. Adding that “our life is short; No one will like to mortgage his or her life in a country where there is no chance of upward mobility in career
Apart from the facts that Nigeria health sector lacks the 21st century equipment required to become an efficient health worker; post graduate training in Nigeria is equally not well funded; opportunity for training and progress in career is not well grounded in Nigeria. Money goes to where money is treated well. The same thing with human capital and human resource. Dr Alalade, without sounding derogatory to the Nursing Profession, said a typical nurse in UK is well paid than a consultant in Nigeria. Why he chose UK, rather than Nigeria to practice, Alalade said: “Towards the end of my medical school, I looked at the future of medicine and the prospects. I also looked at my consultants, and the registrars in Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), I really didn’t like the working environment, it was not encouraging.
The O&G expert also asserted that social system in Nigeria is porous. “There’s no social safety net in Nigeria. As we get older, our ability to be economically productive might diminish. Nigeria has not got social safety net like America, UK and Canada, where social safety system is well embellished into the social fabric of the society. So, people want to move to where pension system is good and robust.
From Brain Drain to Brain Gain
Dr Babajide Alalade said there is nothing unusual for Nigerians to seek greener pasture to ply their trade. What’s important is for government to have a mechanism in place to encourage professionals in diaspora to send back, not just money, but the acquired skills to positively impact Nigerians at home.
According to the O&G expert, the ATG laboratory and IVF center in Nigeria are plowing back investment to change infertility narratives in Nigeria. “Like Prof. Fabamwo, Chief Medical Director, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital said on this platform, there’s nothing wrong with brain drain. Many professionals in diaspora are reinvesting their acquired skills on Nigerians to live better lives. I do this via the Ask The Gynecology Laboratory and the IVF Center in Nigeria. Am using my acquired skills to help people bridge the knowledge gap; create jobs and provide solutions to the problem of infertility in Nigeria”.
Future of Medicine in Nigeria
The best way medicine can be improved upon in Nigeria, according to Dr Babajide Alalade, is through robust public health. “Because of our culture and way of life, we don’t value acute medicine until things go wrong. Once things happen in Nigeria, we say that’s the way God wants it to happen. We move on. This is because spending money into acute medicine is expensive, government wouldn’t and private sectors are not even encouraged too. So, the best way is public health. Prevention is better than cure. In Nigeria, i see people eating pizza, eating ice cream, knocking down their heart and kidneys. So, the best way is public health to prevent or to keep people aware of the lifestyle’s risks.
Corruption Breeds Fake Drugs and Quackery
The twin problem of fake drugs and fake doctors’ is a big problem affecting the performance of health sector in Nigeria. While discussing how to eliminate quackery in medical profession, Alalade spoke about his attempt to get doctors together on ATG, through medical council register but could not because the list was not updated. “We need an online platform, where any one from any where can go to a website, punch in the doctor’s name or number to see the details of the doctor; his area of specialization, the medical school he attended, the year of graduation and other details. This will go a long way to eliminate quackery a lot. Apart from that, patients need to know where to check about a doctor”.
Speaking further on fake drugs Alalade said it’s a monster, a product of corruption that has permeated Nigeria’s social fabric. According to the O&G expert, as long as Nigeria fails to tackle corruption, government’s efforts to tackle fake drugs through NAFDAC will continue to fail.
“Amazing things do happen in Nigeria. Sometimes you will see on You tube and Facebook, different ‘agbo’ licensed by NAFDAC, but a medication, a simple drug and vitamin for pregnancy will not get license. So, you wonder what is going on. Its money based and it’s the Nigeria system. For example, I wanted to get license for my laboratory, license is two hundred thousand naira, I ended up paying 1.2 million naira eventually. It’s painful. I had to do it because I was already in it, else the investment I had made on the IVF center will go down the drain”.
I don’t know how Nigeria will tackle the problem of fake drugs, said Alalade. “I wanted to bring in ordinary incubator for the IVF center. We could not get it cleared from the port until we spent almost the same money, N1.2 m to get it into Lagos from the port. These are some of the things that chase people and investment away. This is why removing quackery totally in Nigeria will be difficult”. He, however, commends NAFDAC for giving more information on licensed products. “NAFDAC is really trying now, I won’t lie. Because, now you can check from the code on any drug, you will know how its produced where it’s produced, it’s getting better, but there is still a long way to go and there are still some bad eggs”.
Traditional Birth Attendant, Herbal & Orthodox Medicine: The Synergy Point.
Traditional birth attendance and herbal medicine, popularly called ‘agbo’ are everywhere in Nigeria. They’ve always been there before orthodox medicine came and they will continue to be there. There is nothing we can do about it. Indeed, there is nothing we can do, says Alalade. “Some doctors even drink ‘agbo’. Here in London our people drink ‘agbo’. What am trying to say is that they’re part of our life like you rightly said. If somebody told me that I should come and invest in herbal medicine company, I will invest because I know I will make my money there, I’m a businessman. What I’m trying to say is that they’ve come to stay”.
“Some doctors even drink ‘agbo’.”
Dr Babajide Alalade suggested training for the Traditional Birth Attendant TBA. “One way we can move forward in the case of traditional birth attendant is to train them so that they know what to do and improve on the skills that they have, so that they will know when to ask for help and where their capabilities stop”.
To achieve synergy between traditional birth attendant and doctors will definitely be difficult, because TBA practitioners will see doctors as trying to take their job. Also, difficulty to communicate together will be a challenge, says Alalade. “For example, a woman came to me in ATG and said that a TBA told her she needed to reset her womb. I’m like, what do you mean, they want to reset your womb? She said she was told that they would put their hands in the virginal and massage the womb to reset the womb. Am a gynecologist I have opened over 2000 wombs and I have never heard such a thing before in medicine, I don’t know what womb massaging means. Now, if I sat down with a womb massager, there is no way we can communicate together.
Despite this problem, the O&G expert said we cannot neglect the traditional birth attendant. “There must be a way that we can license them so that there could be regulation on their activities. Traditional birth attendants are filling a gap. That’s the unfortunate truth because doctors can’t penetrate Nigeria completely. Doctors can’t penetrate everywhere because of funding and or there is ‘bokoharam’ that will kill them.
“TBA and herbal medicine thrives in places where doctors can’t go. If doctors are everywhere in Nigeria, traditional birth attendant business will die naturally. So, the best way for Nigeria is to ensure that they are all trained, licensed, establish regulatory oversight and provide tools for them to function”
How to become a successful doctor
“Anybody looking to move into medicine, must first of all have one thing in mind; Passion for being a doctor. That is to say, even if you don’t get paid for it, you still love it. If that’s not the case, don’t venture into becoming a doctor. You will first of all love it, then the money will come. Once you put love in what you do, money is definitely guaranteed to come because people will feel it. They will sense the energy, the enthusiasm will radiate and they will feel the heat and be convinced that yes, this person loves what he or she does. This person is a true doctor. At that point, your knowledge becomes useful and you get paid for what you know.”
“Like In any career, any business, the ability to sell is what keeps you afloat. What you know is not useful until you know how to use what you know. What matters is how you use what you know. Whatever you know as a doctor is not entirely useful until you know how you use it. You don’t get paid for what you know but for using what you know. What I’m saying is that to make it in any profession including medicine, you must know how to sell. If you do not sell anything, you can’t make it”.
Unfortunately, doctors don’t know to sell, says Alalade. “They have been trained to just sit down and wait for patients to come. Most doctors don’t know how to sell, and how to sell comes with an attitude. Most doctors don’t know the language patients speak. To be able to make money in any profession, you need to know how to sell, have the right attitude and know the language your patients are speaking. It’s not only in the word but also in the context. So, doctors need to be taught that in medical school clearly”.
Anybody looking to move into medicine, according to Dr Babajide Alalade, must first of all have one thing in mind; Passion for being a doctor. “That is to say, even if you don’t get paid for it, you still love it. If that’s not the case, don’t venture into becoming a doctor. You will first of all love it, then the money will come. Once you put love in what you do, money is definitely guaranteed to come because people will feel what you do, they will sense the energy, the enthusiasm will radiate and they will feel the heat and be convinced that yes, this person loves what he or she does. This person is a true doctor. At that point, your knowledge becomes useful and you get paid for what you know.
Source: Dare Agbeluyi, Chief Publisher.
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