Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, this morning said that Nigerian doctors are free to leave the country because we have enough doctors.
The Minister stated this on Wednesday morning on a Channels TV programme (Sunrise Daily).
According to Dr. Ngige, there is nothing wrong with our doctors relocating to the western countries as they would send foreign currencies back home which would in turn grow the economy.
His statement came as a response to a question on the alleged deliberate recruitment of Nigerian doctors by foreign embassies in Nigeria at the detriment of the nation’s health sector.
“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.
“There are surplus in their country and we also have surplus in the medical profession in our country. I can tell you this. In my area, we have excess.
“Who said 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 them back home here. Yes, we have foreign exchange earnings from them and not just oil.”
Asked if he was sure of his statement, Dr. Ngige said; “Will you call that brain drain? I know a couple of them who practise abroad but set up medical centres back home. They have CAT scan, MRI scan which even the government cannot maintain. So, I don’t see any loss,” he said.
“Brain drain will only be inimical when for instance neurosurgeons travel and we don’t have neurosurgeons here,” he added when asked if brain drain was not hurting the health sector in Nigeria.
According to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, there are 72,000 registered doctors in Nigeria.
And Nigeria’s population is 180million.
By our calculations it means 2500 persons per doctor.
But the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, however noted that there is one doctor per 5,000 people in Nigeria (as seen on Punch).
The World Health Organisation however recommends one doctor per 600 people.
With this obvious shortage, Mr. Ngige who is also a medical doctor by profession thinks we have enough doctors in the country.