Movie seeks to halt brain drain among Nigerian medical personnel

The second leg of the serial premiere of a COVID-19-inspired documentary film that was created to mitigate the outflow of medical professionals from Nigeria will hold this Saturday at the Conference hall of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria’s South West.

Aside from the screening of the 95-minute documentary titled UNMASKED: Leadership, Trust and Covid-19 Pandemic in Nigeria produced and directed by the ace filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi, and co-produced and presented by the journalist and media entrepreneur, Kadaria Ahmed, the event will also feature a conversation on issues around the state of the health system in the country.

With the theme, Stopping Brain Drain in the Health Sector, the conversation will feature the Governor of Oyo State Governor, Oluseyi Makinde as special guest of honour and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele will  present the keynote, a role he played at the maiden premiere and conversation on May 7 in Lagos.

In giving the background to the production of the documentary, Odugbemi said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world on its head and hit the world’s most populous black nation Nigeria with predictable ferocity. With its soft underbelly of corruption, poor healthcare infrastructure, weak systems and an ever-increasing number of its population below the poverty line, the impact of Covid-19 Pandemic has been substantial, but could this also be an opportunity for reset?”

This is the context in which the conversation will hold on after the documentary has been screened.

The conversation is to be led by eminent panellists including Professor Oyewale Tomori, the consultant Virologist to the World Health Organisation (WHO) who is the most renowned expert in the field of  virology in the country; Professor Olayinka Omigbodun, the Provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, who like Prof Tomori is a well-tested teacher of medical practitioners, as well as the Oyo State  Commissioner for Health, Dr Bashir Bello.

Speaking on the expectations of the producers, Ms. Ahmed, stated: “It is the hope of the producers of the documentary that beyond documenting the Nigerian story of covid, Unmasked acts as a catalyst for a conversation on shortcomings in our public health sector that were unmasked by Covid. “

The film’s production and the conversation are facilitated by the support of MacArthur Foundation and PLAC (Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre).

Moderator of the conversations, Kadaria Ahmed, former BBC journalist and editor of the defunct, NEXT234, had said that the series, “will center on how the public and private sector can collaborate for the development of a robust and effective public health care system.”

Ahmed, also the co-producer and presenter of the documentary, disclosed that subsequent screening of the documentary will hold in Kano, Kaduna and, perhaps, Port Harcourt.

“In those cities the conversations will revolve around the training and retention of medical personnel in Nigeria and the provisions of basic healthcare as a perquisite for development of a robust human resources.”

In giving the background to the production of the documentary, Odugbemi said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world on its head and hit the world’s most populous black nation Nigeria with predictable ferocity. With its soft underbelly of corruption, poor healthcare infrastructure, weak systems and an ever-increasing number of its population below the poverty line, the impact of Covid-19 Pandemic has been substantial, but could this also be an opportunity for reset?” This is the context in which the conversation will hold on Friday after the documentary has been screened.

Ms Ahmed, states: “It is the hope of the producers of the documentary that beyond documenting the Nigerian story of covid, Unmasked acts as a catalyst for a conversation on shortcomings in our public health sector that were unmasked by Covid.“

On the theme, the film director, Odugbemi said it was deliberately chosen to address issues of shortage of personnel and poor training, orientation and remuneration, which the film identified through interviews and interactions with many of the respondents in the docu-feature, produced by Daria Media and Zuri24 Media.

Interviews with many of the protagonists, for instance, showed that majority of medical personnel – doctors, nurses, special care givers, laboratory technicians and even attendants, who remain in service in the country would jump at any slight opportunity to leave the shores of Nigeria for “greener pastures” in other countries.

“So, we discovered that whereas we spend so much money to train these medical personnel and specialists, we discourage them from remaining in the system. We soon lose them to Canada, UK, US and such other countries. Such was our situation when the pandemic came calling and we had shortage of personnel to serve in the frontline. And even where they were available they had been so disoriented that it was difficult for them to rise up effectively to the occasion,” Odugbemi, the multiple award-winning story teller and media content creator said.

 

 

 

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