From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, has disclosed that the issue of brain drain in the medical sector is gradually being resolved, and Nigerian doctors who are practicing abroad are beginning to return for local practice with, perhaps, improved knowledge, skills and experiences.

This is, perhaps, contrary to the general believe that more health care professionals are leaving Nigeria on daily basis for foreign practice due to renumeration and better working conditions.

Prof. Pate spoke in Abuja, on Friday, at the sectoral ministerial press briefing to commemorate to the one anniversary of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.

He said that administration and financial investments in Nigeria’s health care system is increasingly being reformed and strengthened in the last one year, and that had gained the confidence and trust of Nigerians in diaspora, particularly the medical doctors and other health care professionals hence the interest in the system.

He said: “In the last six to seven months, we have seen signs and indication that medical experts, well-trained Nigerian medical doctors are returning to practice in the country. At the same time, we have some young folks are moving abroad to train themselves on different areas.

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“We have even supported those that are going for Residency Training abroad and we would do more of that if there’s need for that. This is because we expect them to acquire the relevant medical skills and competence there, and return to Nigeria to serve the people.

“We have expanded our training capacity from 28,000 to 64, 000 in the last few months. This is another way to replenish the number that might have, perhaps, change locations for whatever reason. This is what we would have done many years ago, but unfortunately, we are playing catch up role mow. However, it will take many years to see the impact of the training through additional workforce.

“Nevertheless, Nigerians need to appreciate what we have in the country. It pains me that people spend huge resources to travel abroad for medical services that are offered in Nigeria. There are so many complicated medical procedures that are done in our tertiary health facilities, by Nigerian doctors who are trained and have practiced in Nigeria.”

The Minister further stated that efforts are being made to expand the health insurance net to accommodate more millions of people which will make medical services affordable. “For 25 years of existence of National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), only 17 million Nigerians are captured in the system. We ought to have passed that level. Nevertheless, we are working on expanding and increasing the affordability of health through insurance.”


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