The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has expressed his disappointment over plans by some Nigerian doctors to embark on a medical sojourn abroad for financial gratification, urging them to consider giving back to their local environments and society.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that the minister, who made the urge at the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19 daily briefing on Thursday in Abuja, was responding to a failed attempt by 58 Nigerian doctors to travel to the UK last week.
The doctors were stopped by the Nigeria Immigration Service at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, for not having a valid visa.
According to him, Nigerians who became doctors through subsidised education and scholarship ought to remain in the country and give back to their communities.
The minister said “Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world paying medical doctors hazard allowance.
“This UK where they are going, there is no hazard allowance; they don’t give doctors hazard allowance, but you just get your salary. That is all.
“They say it is part of your job and that is what you are trained for. They don’t pay you anything.
“But here, apart from your salary, we try to add something to it with the hope that you will stay.
“We also appeal to state governments to prioritise employment of doctors.”
He noted that doctors migration was not peculiar to Nigeria, as some UK doctors also leave their country for other places.
He explained that while Nigeria would not stop doctors who wanted to leave, they must ensure that they also have visa.
He said “with regards to the 58 doctors, we were all surprised to hear that they were at the airport and it was irregular in that many of them had no Visa.
“I don’t know what evidence you have whether they have left the country, but no one should leave the country without visa,”
Mr Ehanire restated that those who were trained through scholarship or whose training were subsidised and have jobs here actually have a moral responsibility to give back.
He said “this is because even now we have large numbers of Nigerian doctors in the UK, the U.S. and Europe who apply to come every year and serve even though they were not trained here or at the state’s expense.
“This is just a moral obligation. They are called the Diaspora Health Professionals Initiative. Some spend their own money and come with their own equipment even though they owe the country nothing,” he said.