Nigeria’s Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire has revealed plans of the federal government to employ the services of medical experts from Europe and America.
Ehanire revealed this during the 2020 budget defence session, that the move would strengthen the nation’s health sector.
He affairmed that officials of the ministry were in touch with foreign embassies for specialists who would work in hospitals across the country for specified periods.
This disclosure comes at a time that some stakeholders are expressing concern about the migration of health workers from the country.
He was responding to a question from a member of the Mrs. Tolulope Akande Sodipe-led House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Matters about plans for curbing medical tourism.
Ehanire said the experts, already exposed to sophisticated practice in the advanced world, would not only attend to the health needs of Nigerians but also use the opportunity to share expertise with their local counterparts.
There are equally plans to make indigenous consultants and surgeons spend some time abroad and come back to improve the Nigerian healthcare system, the minister said.
He maintained that the country’s teaching hospitals were adequately equipped and manned by experienced and qualified doctors but noted that more work needed to be done to build the confidence of Nigerians on the facilities.
The minister added that the sector requires more funds to also create an enabling atmosphere for Nigerian experts in the diaspora to return and render free services to the homeland.
Reacting to the ministers speech, president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, probed the plan to bring experts from abroad.
According to him: “Is it the four per cent budgetary allocation for health? Is it the equipment that is not there and is not working? Where will they work with empty seats and chairs at most hospitals?
The health minister needs to tell himself some truth. No doctor in the Diaspora will want to come back under the present circumstances. The health system is not functioning optimally and we have to fix it and prevent brain drain before thinking of attracting doctors practising abroad.”
Also faulting the idea, a former president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Olumide Akintayo, said: “I hope this is not connected with the plans to sell all the teaching hospitals and federal health institutions in the name of privatisation? We should be thinking of how to improve the conditions of service of health professionals in the system and stem brain drain. The plan by the minister is unfortunate and ill-advised. I am sure that all health workers except the doctors will reject this plan. This is not what we need now.”