March 11, 2024

‘Japa’: Our doctors, nurses abroad ready to return to Nigeria – Minister

‘Japa’: Our doctors, nurses abroad ready to return to Nigeria – Minister

Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Ali Pate, said Nigerian doctors, nurses and health officers working abroad are ready to return to the country provided the enabling infrastructure is provided.

Pate stated this in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

He said, “Some that have been successful are also begin to think of how to come back if the enabling infrastructure is provided.”

According to the minister, there are many health workers who chose to remain in Nigeria to serve the country despite the opportunity to move abroad where there are guaranteed of better pay and welfare package.

He said, “There are also thousands who are here that despite the opportunity to travel abroad, they are not travelling abroad and we do appreciate them.”

Pate added that some Nigerians health professionals simply “go to get trainings abroad with the expectation that they will come back better skilled and contribute at home.”

Speaking on the migration of health workers, Pate said the government is doing all it can to make the industry conducive for health professionals to stay at home and practice.

Pate said the ‘Japa’ — the migration phenomenon known as Japa, which has seen the exodus of thousands of young health workers in the last few years — is not limited to Nigeria, adding that the trend is a global phenomenon.

“The lifeblood of the health sector is the human resource. That is the most important ingredient, not the hospitals, though they are very important complements.

“There are about 300,000 health professionals working in Nigeria today, of all cadres; doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, laboratory scientists.”

Pate said though “there are about 55,000 licensed medical doctors in Nigeria”, they are no sufficient and not well-distributed across the country.

“Can you believe that most of the doctors and high professionals are in Lagos, Abuja and a few other urban centres? So, there is huge distribution challenge.”

He said about 15,000 doctors have been lost in the last five years, but the government is committed to expanding its training programme to fill the vacuum.

The health minister also said work is ongoing with the National Salaries Incomes And Wages Commission Wages to raise the pay of health workers in the country.