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No Problem Doctors Leaving, Ngige Insists As He Slams Channels Over Rumpus



Ngige Ministers travel allowance

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has restated his stance that there was no problem with doctors leaving the country for abroad as long as they help to repatriate money to strengthen the economy.

Dismissing the rumpus arising from his interview with Channels Television on Wednesday, Dr Ngige in a statement insisted that the television panel deliberately misinterpreted his assertions.

A statement by the Special Assistant Media to the Minister, Nwachukwu Obidiwe said Sen. Ngige being a patriotic Nigerian, a medical doctor, and one who neither shies away from speaking on the reality of the Nigerian situation nor given to pretences, fully appreciates the sensitivity of the issue at hand and the consequential negative import of brain drain on national productivity.

 “I speak from the vintage position of being a medical doctor and member, Nigerian Medical Association since June, 1979 and enriched by my vast knowledge on health administration, having retired as a Deputy Director, Medical Services and Training from the Federal Ministry of Health in 1998, member of Vision 2010 Committee on Health as well as senior member, Senate Committee on Health 2011-2015.

 “Therefore, the truth no matter how it hurts, must be told and reality, boldly faced. Hence, apart from Nigeria’s non-compliance with the World Health Organisation’s ratio of one doctor to six hundred patients ofwhich I was misquoted, every other thing I said in that interview is an existential reality, useful and constructive facts which every Nigerian that watched the full inteeirview will hardly dispute. I invite opinion moulders especially those who have spoken or written on this issue to watch the full clip of my interview with the channels.

 “And it is for this reason that I admitted having a little cause to worry about brain drain among medical doctors .The fact is that while the federal government has recorded a remarkably steady improvement in our healthcare system, Nigeria is yet to get there. We do not at present have enough health facilities to accommodate all the doctors seeking to do  tertiary specialist training (residency) in the Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centres and few accredited state and private specialist centres in the country, where roughly 20% of the yearly applicants are absorbed while the remaining 80%,  try their luck elsewhere.”

According to the statement, most of these rejected applicants usually throng the Federal Ministry of Health and that of Labour and Employment to complain of being illegally schemed out.

“What the Minister meant therefore is that these professionals have the right to seek for training abroad to sharpen their skills, become specialists and later turn this problem to a national advantage when they repatriate their legitimate earnings and later return to the country.

“Even where some of these doctors are bonded to their oversea training institutions, examples abound on the large number of them who have successfully returned to settle and establish specialist centres across the country. It is therefore a question of turning your handicap to an advantage.   

“This situation in any case is not peculiar to Nigeria as countries like Pakistan, Ceylon, Bangledesh exported teachers to secondary schools in the old Eastern and Northern Regions in the sixties and seventies where their earnings were also repatriated to their countries.  

The statement further stated that the Ministry of Labour and Employment has a migration policy, developed with the European Union to assist skilled Nigerians work and earn decent living abroad, adding that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora has done a lot of work in encouraging Nigerian professionals abroad to return, with a good number of doctors relocating from the United States and other European countries.

It also said the problem was not limited to doctors seeking specialization as   young medical officers who graduate from medical schools spend two to three years looking for a space for Housemanship.

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