ABUJA – The Nigeria Health Watch, a health blog, said on Monday that over 5,000 doctors and nurses trained in Nigeria have abandoned the nation to practice in United Kingdom.
At a briefing to kick off this year “Future of Health Conference” – a premier conference of the organization in Abuja, the Editor-in-Chief of the organisation, Adaobi Ezeokoli, said there was need for the nation to convince the professionals they could make significant contributions to Nigeria’s health system, with assurances that such sacrifices would attract benefits.
Nigeria Health Watch has chosen a theme around this objective for its conference which begins on Thursday October 18. The theme: “The Diaspora as Nigeria’s Brain Gain,” builds on the work done by the organization in the areas of health communication, policy reform advocacy, Ezeokoli said.
She noted that speakers at the conference had been carefully chosen among diverse experts locally and from the diaspora, including the wife of Kebbi state governor, Dr Zainab Bagudu.
“We’ve been doing this work since 2015. We run a blog called Nigerianwatch.com where we write about the health sector, policies and stories about the health sector. So, we have a couple of strategies to get information about the health sector. We have a very active social media presence, our Twitter handle is probably the largest handle tweeting on health in Nigeria.
“Our largest programme is this issue of health conference, where we seek to bring together, health advocates, professionals, policy makers to discuss issues that affect the health sector as a whole. In 2015, we talked about the importance of Nigerians beginning to talk about doing the work that need to be done in the health sector.”
Similarly, Ifeanyi Nsofor, Director, Policy and Advocacy for the organization said: “For this year, we decided to focus on the Nigerian medical diaspora. For so many years now, what we hear is brain drain.
“A lot of doctors leave, a lot of nurses, pharmacists leave the country. Working in the space, we observe that a lot of such professionals are also relocating into the country. That’s why we said it’s time for us to look at this occurrence. That’s why we themed this ’The diasporas and the brain drain for Nigeria.’
The major objective for this conference is what kind of capacity exists between the diasporas who is planning to come back. What lessons can people who are planning to come back learn from those who have come back. And, how do we create the synergy between the professionals who are in the country and have not relocated and the ones who are coming back. Ultimately, the goal for us is to lift the Nigerian health sector.
“Within our own space, we’ve learnt some practices that have been set up by Nigerian diaspora doctors that came back and were not even aware of. It is possible for Nigerians to be going out and seek healthcare that is already available here, which nobody has shown light upon over the years. That’s the major reason we are doing this conference. We’ve gathered distinguished panel of speakers some of whom you know already.
He said the essence of the conference is to enable the nation “tap into the diaspora community.”