Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has said the federal government is working hard to end mass exodus of medical workers from the country to developed countries.
The minister, who spoke in Abakaliki during the annual general conference/delegates meeting of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), expressed worry over the increasing rate of brain drain in the country’s medical sector.
Represented by the Chief Medical Director of Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital in Abakaliki, Dr. Emeka Onwe, the minister said the federal government has instituted a diaspora programme geared towards engaging doctors who have acquired latest skills and knowledge that would help transform the health sector.
He said: “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 encourage the exodus in order to make increased contribution to our healthcare delivery.”
The minister also expressed concern at the inability of several state governments’ inability to recruit and keep medical doctors, including specialists in their secondary and tertiary hospitals.
“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 President of the NMA, Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, also stated that 2,000 medical workers leave the country annually to developed countries.
He said this has necessitated the theme of the meeting which is ‘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,” he said.
Declaring the conference open, the state Governor, David Umahi, promised to continue supporting the doctors and other health care practitioners in the state.
He said his administration would commence the construction of a new teaching hospital in June for the state university medical school in Uburu.