Cameroon’s higher education and health authorities have decried the exodus of young graduates in the medical field to countries in the developed world – a situation that has put the country’s health sector at peril due to a shortage of highly skilled professionals.
According to Dr Manaouda Malachie, Cameroon’s minister of public health, there is a demand for health personnel in most parts of the country despites thousands of medical students graduating annually. The situation is alarming, necessitating urgent measures to halt the brain drain, he said.
“Many of our young graduate doctors are migrating to seek better work and financial incentives elsewhere, leaving our healthcare services in a predicament,” Malachie said in an address to health workers earlier in January.
He called for a halt to the crisis.
According to a report of the ministry of public health, about 30,000 healthcare practitioners are needed in Cameroon to align with the World Health Organization’s recommendation of one doctor to 10,000 people.
The report puts Cameroon’s current doctor-patient ratio at one doctor per 50,000 persons. It blames the shortage on the massive number of Cameroonian doctors who have been forced to travel abroad to seek better employment.
Higher education authorities have repeatedly condemned the disappearance of young medical graduates.
Presiding over the graduation of some 600 medical doctors from the University of Yaoundé 1 at the end of last year, Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo, the minister of higher education, said statistics show that one-third of every graduating batch of young doctors abandon their jobs for greener pastures abroad no sooner have they begun work. He called on the graduates to show a sense of patriotism by serving their country with love and dedication.
“The country is in need of your services. I enjoin you not to follow in the footsteps of those who have abandoned their country to look for greener pastures elsewhere,” he told graduates.
This call was echoed by Dr Rodolphe Fonkoua, formerly a board member of the Cameroon Medical Council (CMC), and the newly elected council president.
“As professionals, we are called to respect medical ethics and laws related to medical professions, to serve selflessly and uphold professional standards. Abandoning service in your country after training should be discouraged,” Fonkoua said at the end of an extraordinary elective general meeting on 10 December 2023.
But, medical students in training say there’s a likelihood the trend will continue because of the absence of an enabling working environment.
Source: University World News