From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Worried by the mass exodus of Nigerian medical doctors abroad in search of greener pastures, President Muhamamdu Buhari has directed the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, to look into ways of ending the ugly trend.
In the last six years, Nigeria have lost an estimated 10,000 doctors and professionals in the health sector to the US, UK, Canada and some European and Asian countries, especially in the aftermath of the outbreak of COVOD-19.
President Buhari, who received the new executive members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), in Abuja, yesterday, told officials of the union that he has directed the minister to turn the “brain drain” to “brain gain” by engaging top Nigerian medical experts in the diaspora in knowledge and skills repatriation.
He also announced that the Federal Government has disbursed N100 billion to indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare investors as loans to expand their capital base, boost local production of medicines and medical consumables.
He said the loan was extended through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s support to the local pharmaceutical sector.
He said the Health Sector Reform Committee chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was exploring models for the revitalisation of the nation’s healthcare system in ways that improve quality of care and benefits to care providers.
He urged the NMA and other stakeholders in the sector to support initiatives by the Federal Government to resuscitate the sector. He also urged them to work with committees set up to fast track the health system to meet the needs of Nigerians in the 21st Century.
Buhari commended the NMA, which is the umbrella body of all medical practitioners in Nigeria, for consistently choosing peaceful resolution of differences on matters pertinent to the national health system.
“I commend our medical professionals for their contribution to Nigeria’s exemplary management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the control of malaria, HIV and tuberculosis, and other feats also achieved by Nigerian doctors in the diaspora. Our response to COVID-19 pandemic has been praised internationally and your members are key parts of this success. I recall that in the last quarter of 2021, the immediate past NMA executives visited me and presented recommendations for the health sector.”
He hailed former president of the body, Dr. Osahon Enabulele and President-elect of the World Medical Association, the first Nigerian to hold the position.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, who led the medical practitioners to the audience, affirmed that the doctors had been good partners with his ministry.