By Gina Abella
Professor of Surgery and Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Ben Jiburum, has said investment in capacity building and provision of conducive work environments was the best approach to addressing the worsening state of brain drain among medical professionals in Nigeria.
Addressing newsmen during a webinar on Tuesday, he acknowledged that brain drain was greatly paralyzing the surgical workforce in Africa, recommending that African governments learn from and adopt the Smile Train model of partnerships.
He said: “Training of surgeons is expensive, and facilities for training are limited. Persons who have been trained locally and are desirous of further training often travel abroad. When they go out, the tendency is that they take what they are offered and not necessarily what they originally wanted to train in.
“The way forward is for training colleges like WACS to expand training opportunities. With organisations like Smile Train, this can be scaled up. More training centres should be accredited after meeting our minimum standards with the support of well-meaning organisations and the government. We are more likely to retain most of the manpower if we provide the enabling environment for them to stay.”
Jiburum who doubles as an examiner with the West African College of Surgeons, re-echoed the impact of Smile Train in Nigeria, noting that the largest global cleft organization partners with local medical professionals providing them with funding, training and resources to provide free, safe and quality cleft surgery and comprehensive care all year round in low- and middle-income countries.
“Some of the strategic investments in education and training include partnerships with Scottish Charity KidsOR, the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) to provide scholarships in various categories. “
Recently, Smile Train has laid the foundation in Ghana for Africa’s first Cleft Leadership Centre to build the capacity of cleft professionals across the continent to dispense global standards of care at local level.