The Medical Director, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Dr. Olugbenga Owoeye, has raised alarm over the increasing pace at which occupational therapists are leaving the country for greener pastures.
Owoeye said that the government needs to take proactive measures to address the challenges that pose a greater risk to the overall outcome of mental healthcare in the country.
Speaking in Lagos during the 16th & 17th convocation ceremonies of the Federal School of Occupational Therapy, FSOT, Owoeye said the institution that was established in 2003 remains the only school of its nature in the whole of the West Africa sub-region.
He explained that due to infrastructural challenges, they have not produced up to 300 graduates since inception, and the few that have been produced are in high demand abroad. “As they are graduating, they are leaving. This is a greater challenge for us because, without an occupational therapist, patient treatment is incomplete.
“The government needs to support us in infrastructure and manpower so that we can increase the number we produce. At the same time, the government needs to make the environment conducive and appealing for training and practice.”
While announcing the automatic job appointment for the five best graduating students, Owoeye tasked the graduates to be professional in their dealings, saying, “There are basic principles in life that I want you to put into consideration. I called it the PHD of life, pray as if everything depends on prayer, double your hard work, and be determined to succeed. When you combine all these attributes, it will be difficult for you to fail.
“In the 2017 set, we have two distinctions, while in the 2018 set, we have three distinctions, making a total of five distinctions.
“All of them will be absorbed and employed by our hospital immediately. This is because we are very proud of our product and are ready to retain as many of them as possible.”
Speaking on the role of occupational therapists during the presentation of certificates and awards, the acting principal of the school, Mr. Adeoso Akinwole said that an occupational therapist is one of the most important professionals in mental health and other medical fields.
“The occupational therapist is not the first contact along the treatment line, but he or she is the last person that transfers the patients back to society.
“One mistake from the Occupational Therapist, and the hope of the patient will be permanently dashed. They are to facilitate the reintegration of patients back into society.”
The best graduating student of the 2020/2021 set, Salami Kehinde Akeem and the best graduating student, 2021/2022 set, Aderoju Adedunni Omolara expressed appreciation to the management and staff of the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba for the opportunity to work in their environment, saying that such a gesture will encourage other undergraduates to work hard.