Nigerian Hospitals Struggle as ‘Japa Syndrome’ Drives Health Workers Abroad

Dr. James Enimi Omietimi, Chief Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has raised concerns over the increasing emigration of health workers, a phenomenon known as the “Japa syndrome.”

This trend severely impacts healthcare delivery in Nigeria, with many clinical personnel such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and lab scientists leaving for better opportunities abroad.

“Japa syndrome is a major problem, affecting the availability and quality of healthcare services in our hospitals. We are witnessing an unprecedented drain of talent and expertise,”

Dr. Omietimi stated during a recent health conference. He emphasized that the Federal Medical Centre and other institutions are struggling to fill vacancies, leading to longer wait times for patients and reduced access to specialized care.

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) corroborated this trend, noting that thousands of doctors have emigrated in recent years due to poor working conditions, low pay, and lack of professional development opportunities.

NARD President Dr. Emeka Orji urged the government to take urgent steps to improve the healthcare system, including increasing salaries, investing in infrastructure, and providing better training programs.

The Ministry of Health has acknowledged the issue, with Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire pledging to implement measures aimed at retaining medical professionals.

“We are committed to addressing the root causes of this exodus and ensuring our health sector can provide the high-quality care our citizens deserve,” Dr. Ehanire affirmed.

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