The Federal Government has said that efforts are being made to put an end to mass immigration of medical workers from Nigeria to foreign countries.
The Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole, disclosed this when he spoke during the annual general conference/delegates meeting of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Abakaliki.
Chief Medical Director of Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital in Abakaliki, Dr. Emeka Onwe who represented the minister, made it known that government is very concerned over the increasing rate of brain drain in the country’s medical sector.
In his words, part of government efforts to stop the trend, is to engage doctors who have acquired latest skills and knowledge that would help transform the health sector through the setup of a Diaspora programme.
“I am not particularly happy with the latest trend of doctors leaving the country to other lands for greener pastures. We shall continue to ensure that the welfare of the health workforce is improved. Our effort at centralising the internship posting of newly graduated doctors had received the support of the Federal Government and would be rolled out within the year.
“The ministry will continue to improve on these activities to discourage the exodus in order to make increased contribution to our healthcare delivery,” he said.
The Health Minister regretted that “in many cases, most local government areas’ health facilities do not have a doctor. These are unrelated to poor welfare and remuneration package at various levels among other factors.”
The NMA president, Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, while peaking at the event revealed that 2,000 medical workers leave the country annually to other countries.
He explained why the theme of the meeting is tagged ‘Skill repatriation in the health sector: Turning Nigeria’s brain drain to brain gain’.
“We believe that this ugly situation can be turned to an advantage hence the need to bring this to the front burner for discussion and proffer a way out to the country’s advantage.”
Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, who is also a medical doctor, has denied brain drain in Nigeria health sector in a quote, claiming that Nigerian medical workers are free to travel abroad to practice their profession if they feel so as the country has more than enough.
He has meanwhile denied the claim, saying he was misquoted.