Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has called for a complete overhaul of the health sector, kicking against the high rate of foreign medical trips taken by Nigerians. His remark comes on the same week that the Minister of Labor and Employment, Chris Ngige, said in an interview that he has no problem with the mass migration of Nigerian health workers.
Backstory: Ngige who spoke as a guest on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday morning said that the Nigerian medical field was filled to the brim, and as such, exporting manpower would be expedient.
“We have a surplus in the medical profession in our country. I can tell you this. It is my area, we have excess. We have enough, more than enough, quote me,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dogara, during a public hearing organized by the House Committee on Health on two bills at the National Assembly on Wednesday, decried the high rate of foreign trips made by Nigerians for medical reasons.
Calling for more reforms in the sector, he said, “The high number of Nigerians who go on foreign medical trips and the brain drain that we witness among our professionals in the sector, are indications that our health sector requires a serious surgical operation.”
Why Dogara’s Statement is a Practical Alternative to Ngige’s: The Minister’s statement was largely uninformed and myopic. Rather than suggesting ways to fix the sector’s issues, which has led to strikes and the loss of innocent lives, he was more interested in the foreign exchange health workers send back when they migrate.
The foreign exchange sent back, pales in comparison to the dent their absence leaves behind, not forgetting the amount of money spent by Nigerians seeking medical attention abroad, including the President who has embarked on another “private visit” to the United Kingdom.
Dogara’s argument on an overhaul of the health sector might seem like a long and strenuous journey, but it is the only way we can ensure the efficiency of our health sector. While Ngige is proposing we sit back and ignore the problem, Dogara offers that we face it head on.