From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governor of Sokoto State Aminu Tambuwal has raised concerns about the high number of medical professionals who leave their country in search of better opportunities abroad.
According to a statement by the Head, Media and Public Affairs, Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the governor said this when he paid the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire a courtesy visit in Abuja, urging the federal government to intensify efforts to realize the 25% needed to ensure that all Nigerians are covered by the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF).
He noted that even though the Governors want to work with international and local partners to create a robust healthcare infrastructure dedicated to routine immunization and the complete eradication of polio, their efforts will be in vain if the worrying trend is left unchecked.
“There are challenges but a lot has been achieved, particularly in the effort to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, which as a result made Nigeria come fourth out of 54 African countries under the Global Health Security Index for 2021.”
Tambuwal added; “Yet, we are witnessing brain drain over the years. It is alarming. And, I believe it has something to do with the welfare of the medical personnel
“I urge the federal government to do something about this urgently,” he pleaded.
The Governor applauded the federal government for taking the initiative to establish the BHCPF but recommended that the pace of realizing the fund’s goals not be slowed down.
He promised the federal government and the FMOH that the states would administer the fund transparently and responsibly, noting that the Forum’s decision to distribute it will depend on how well the recipient states performed.
According to him, “health remains our priority, as Governors, with a focus on building a resilient healthcare platform committed to routine immunization and total eradication of polio in the country.”
In his remarks, the minister of health, Ehanire, echoed the governor’s concerns about brain drain disclosing that out of the 3,000 medical students who graduate from the country each year, 1000 of them annually depart the nation.
Despite demands for better pay, he said that the federal government has been working to expand the amount of space available for hiring these individuals.
Ehanire noted that experienced consultants are among the doctors who are least likely to remain in the country and for whom the financial incentives are weak.
He said: “They are the ones that worry us most because it takes a lot of money to train them and it is difficult to meet their expectations.”
In spite of this, the minister advised other state governors to follow the lead of the Sokoto state government, which invests a lot of money in the training of doctors who are then hired by the state.
The Minister of State for Health, Joseph Ekumankama, on his part, thanked the NGF and the governor for their visit, noting that with his new role, Tambuwal’s job now encompasses all aspects of Nigerians’ lives that have an impact on them.