The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, yesterday said that doctors who want to relocate to other countries in search of greener pastures are free to do so, claiming that Nigeria has enough medical personnel to cater for the population via stakeholders decry brain drain in the health sector.
Ngige complete the comment on a television programme while responding to a question on brain drain and the deliberate recruitment of Nigerian doctors by foreign embassies to the detriment of the nation’s health sector.
Nigeria has 350,000 medical doctors, far more than the 260,000 which, the World Health Organisation (WHO) prescribes for the country, He said there was nothing wrong with doctors departure from country as they would continue to send home money which could, grow the economy in turn,. The minister of Labour and Employment, claimed
he said. “I am not worried about doctors leaving the country. We have surplus. If you have surplus, you export. It happened some years ago. I was taught chemistry and biology by Indian teachers in my secondary school days, they are surplus in their country. We have surplus in the medical profession in our country. I can tell you this.
Replied the question why Nigeria is not having doctors to man rural areas, Ngige said: “Who said we don’t have enough doctors? We have more than enough, they go out, they grind their skills. There is nothing wrong with them travelling out,you can quote me. When they go abroad, they earn money and send them back home here. We have foreign exchange earnings from them and not just oil. they are better trained because of the facilities they have there.
“I know some of them who have come back home and opened medical centres here. I know a doctor from America who left in the 80s, we were in medical school together. Now he has a facility in Imo State. He has about four facilities in Maryland where he’s practising, and so you tell me that it’s a brain drain.
“They set up medical centres back home, and in their centre, they have CAT scan, MRI scan which even the government cannot maintain. So, I don’t see any loss.”. When asked if brain drain is not hurting the health sector: “Brain drain will only be inimical when, for instance neurosurgeons travel and we don’t have neurosurgeons here.”Nigeria is believed to be one of the countries most affected by emigration of medical professionals, with about 12 doctors leaving the country every week. The minister said
President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Francis Adebayo Faduyile, refuted Ngigie’s claim that the country has surplus doctors and can afford to export them for economic gains.
divergent to the statistics by the minister, the NMA president, in his reaction, revealed that Nigeria has 75,000 registered doctors, out of which only about 40,000 are practising in the country. Faduyile in separate phone interview that Nigeria does not have enough medical doctors to serve the population. he said the country has a doctor/patient ratio of 1: 5000 against the WHO recommendation of one doctor to 600 patients (1:600).
“As it is, I sympathise with the Minister of Labour and Productivity because he lost the argument. He is looking at the economic cost or benefit but there is the alternate cost. The more our doctors leave this country, the more mothers and children are dying. That is why we have high maternal and child mortality, very low lifespan and expectancy and poor. Dr. Faduyile