‘Six out of 10 eye specialists trained in OAUTH have migrated in 3 years’

AN eye expert, Professor Adenike Adeoye says emigration of eye doctors and trainees has an alarming rate in Nigeria’s health sector with six out of 10 eye specialists trained at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife having left, mainly for the United Kingdom, in the last three years.

Professor Adeoye, in the Faculty of Ophthalmology National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria lecture entitled “Ophthalmology Residency Training in Nigeria, the Trainers’ Perspective” she delivered at the University, described this increasing emigration of ophthalmologists and trainees a major troubling trend.

According to her, aside from the difficulties getting to enter the residency training programme because soon after graduating from medical school, they start sitting for qualifying examinations to move to the UK or the US, many trainees also abort their training to emigrate and seek greener pasture.

Professor Adeoye said these were wastes to Nigeria since the trainees never stay back to develop the country that trained them as eye specialists to meet its need.

She declared “we find that most of those that emigrate abroad were unable to practise ophthalmology because of stringent requirements in these countries. Oftentimes, qualified ophthalmologists have to start residency in the areas of need of such foreign countries like psychiatry and family medicine.

“There is no doubt that without an adequate enabling environment, future trainers (eye specialists) will move out in droves. It seems we are training for other countries to enjoy, leaving our care services underserved.”

The eye expert, in an appraisal of ophthalmology residency training programme in Nigeria said the number of ophthalmologists trained in Nigeria increased from nine to 495 by the year 2020, but still, the rate of training is too slow for the country to meet the World Health Organisation’s minimum requirement of four ophthalmologists per a million population.

Professor Adeoye, however, suggested that stemming emigration of ophthalmologists, there was a need for public-private-partnerships to provide infrastructure and equipment for accredited hospitals for ophthalmology residency as well as funding of community surgical outreaches to improve ophthalmology residency training while making the blind see and preventing potentially blinding eye diseases like glaucoma.

She said the COVID-19 pandemic had also imparted the training of ophthalmologists and suggested that increased adoption of technology, including E-learning and teleophthalmology, wet and dry labs, as well as government interventions ensure safety against the pandemic.

President, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, Dr Musa Muhammed Borodo stated that the College was concerned about skill acquisition, appropriate attitude of its products and the findings of Professor Adeoye and her colleagues on residency training in ophthalmology will substantially help the college to specifically focus on areas of training the college needs to improve on.

Earlier, the chairman at the lecture, Mr Samuel Adegboyega stated that without proper remuneration, stopping the emigration of medical doctors will not be possible and urged increased support for teaching and learning in the country.

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