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Nigerian Government Pleads with Doctors to Return Home

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Nigeria’s health minister has appealed to the eight medical staff who were approved for foreign training to return home and serve the country that sponsored their education.

Dr. Ali Pate, the coordinating minister of health and social welfare, said in a statement on Thursday that the federal government had granted the trainees permission to pursue specialized courses in the United States in various fields of medicine.

However, he expressed concern that the trainees might not come back after completing their programs, leaving Nigeria with a shortage of skilled health workers.

He urged them to honor their commitment to return and “patriotically serve the country that gave them foundational training and still needs their services.”

He also reminded them that it was the commonwealth of Nigeria that contributed to their being attractive to the US and advised them not to be “simply inputs or economic migrants.”

Dr. Ali Pate called on Nigerian professionals in the diaspora to avoid creating a negative perception about the country in foreign lands and assured them that the government was doing everything possible to improve the working conditions of the existing workforce.

Brain Drain and Health Crisis

Nigeria has been facing a brain drain of its medical personnel for decades, as many doctors and nurses seek better opportunities and remuneration abroad.

According to the Nigerian Medical Association, about 40,000 of the 75,000 registered Nigerian doctors practice outside the country.

The exodus of health workers has worsened the health crisis in Nigeria, which has one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the world, at 0.4 per 1,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.

The country also struggles with inadequate infrastructure, equipment, and drugs in its public health facilities, as well as frequent strikes by health workers over unpaid salaries and allowances.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of the health system, as Nigeria has recorded over 2.4 million cases and more than 30,000 deaths, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Government’s Efforts and Challenges

The government has been trying to address the challenges facing the health sector, by increasing the budget allocation, implementing a national health insurance scheme, and launching a health intervention fund.

It has also been investing in human capital development, by sponsoring some medical staff for foreign training and upgrading the skills of others through local and online courses.

However, the government’s efforts have been hampered by the rising insecurity and violence in the country, which have disrupted the delivery of health services and endangered the lives of health workers.

In the past year, several doctors and nurses have been kidnapped, killed, or injured by armed groups, bandits, or insurgents, especially in the northern and central regions of the country.

The government has vowed to restore peace and stability in the country, by deploying more security forces, engaging in dialogue with stakeholders, and addressing the root causes of the conflicts.

Hope for the Future

Despite the challenges, some Nigerian doctors and nurses have chosen to stay and serve their country, motivated by patriotism, passion, and faith.

They have been working tirelessly to save lives, prevent diseases, and improve the quality of health care in their communities.

They have also been inspiring and mentoring the next generation of health workers, who aspire to make a difference in the country.

Some of them have also returned from abroad, after acquiring new skills and knowledge, to contribute to the development of the health sector.

They have expressed optimism that Nigeria can overcome its health challenges, if the government, the private sector, and the civil society work together to create an enabling environment for the health workers and the health system.

Source: Vanguard 

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