The Nigerian Medical Association, the National Association of Resident Doctors, the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project and human rights groups on Wednesday took a swipe at the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, over his comment that the country had enough medical doctors.
Ngige, had on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, said doctors who felt they wanted to relocate in search of greener pastures were free to do so as the nation had enough medical personnel.
Ngige had, while responding to a question on brain drain and the deliberate recruitment of Nigerian doctors by foreign embassies in Nigeria, said there was nothing wrong with doctors leaving the country as they would continue to send foreign exchange home which would, in turn, grow the economy.
He said, “No, I am not worried (about doctors leaving the country). We have surplus. If you have surplus, you export. It happened some years ago here. I was taught chemistry and biology by Indian teachers in my secondary school days.
“Who says we don’t have enough doctors? We have more than enough. You can quote me. There is nothing wrong in them travelling out. When they go abroad, they earn money and send it back home here. Yes, we have foreign exchange earnings from them and not just oil.”
When asked if he was sure of what he was saying, the minister said it was good for doctors to travel out as they would receive training from abroad and open up medical centres in Nigeria.
“Will you call that brain drain? I know a couple of them who practise abroad but set up medical centres back home. They have scanners and magnetic resonance imaging, which even the government cannot maintain. So, I don’t see any loss,” he said.
When asked if brain drain was not hurting the health sector, he said, “Brain drain will only be inimical when for instance neurosurgeons travel and we don’t have neurosurgeons here.”
But in separate interviews with our correspondents, the NMA president, Dr Francis Faduyile and his NARD counterpart, Dr Segun Olaopa, said Ngige did not have the knowledge of the World Health Organisation’s recommendation on doctor-patient ratio.