It was a great surprise to many when Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister Of Labour and Productivity said doctors in Nigeria are free to leave, because the country already has excess.
Ngige made the pronouncement on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.
Asked to comment on brain drain and if the deliberate recruitment of Nigerian doctors by foreign embassies is detrimental to the nation’s health sector, Ngige said: “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.”
When asked if he was sure of what he was saying, Ngige said it is good for doctors to travel out as they would receive training from abroad and open up centres in Nigeria.
“Will you call that brain drain?” he asked.
“I know a couple of them who practice 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.”
When asked if brain drain was not hurting the health sector, he said: “Brain drain will only be inimical when, for instance, neurosurgeons travel and we don’t have neurosurgeons here.”