Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has dispelled concerns about brain drain in the health sector.
Ngige expressed that Nigeria has enough doctors, but many physicians are practising outside rural areas.
He made this comment while speaking during a two-day quarterly meeting of the Nigeria health commissioners forum on Friday.
Ngige explained why Nigeria may not yet be able to meet up with recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on one doctor to 600 patients.
He explained that every rule has an exception and Nigeria is a developing country, not a “United Nations’ country”.
The minister, who is also a medical doctor, said many health workers prefer to work in cities like Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, which affects manpower in primary healthcare centres.
“We’re not a United Nations’ country; we are a developing country. So, when such figures are given, I will tell them every rule has an exception. We are not yet there,” NAN quoted him to have said.
“So, we shall make do with what we have. And when they’re saying he said ‘yes, surplus doctors’, we have surpluses. I keep on telling them that we have not deployed our medical manpower proportionately, and adequately as we should do.
“How many doctors do we have in the rural areas and in the suburbs since everybody is in the townships, with a medical and dental council data showing 4,000 doctors every year?
“Before, it used to be 3,000, before the private universities came. A lot of them are now doing medicine, including Afe Babalola and others. We are now at about 4,000 plus. People even trained abroad are coming back from Russia and Ukraine, and the rest of them. The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) is registering them.
“So, almost everybody has come to Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt to stay. And we have 10,000 primary care centres that are unmanned as at the last count.”
On his part, Akin Abayomi, Lagos state commissioner for health, asked governors to create enabling environment for health workers in their states, adding that there are more than 20,000 Nigerian-born physicians outside the country doing well.
“This is why our governors should create an enabling environment for our physicians. By now, Nigeria should not be talking about brain drain. Rather, it should be talking about bringing back our physicians to the country,” he said.