•Over 5,000 Nigerian-trained doctors, nurses work in UK hospitals
Senator Iroegbu and Godsgift Onyedifu
The Nigeria Health Watch has described Nigerian doctors and other health professionals in diaspora as a potential tool and catalyst for sustainable development in the country.
This was highlighted on Monday by the Editor, Nigeria Health Watch, Ms. Adaobi Ezeokoli, during a press briefing for Thursday’s Future of Health Conference 2018, themed: ‘The Diaspora as Nigeria’s Brain Gain’.
Ezeokoli disclosed that in the United Kingdom(UK) alone, there are over 5,000 Nigerian-trained doctors and nurses, and same constitute a considerable portion of foreign revenue in Nigeria.
“According to the World Bank, Nigerians in the diaspora sent home $22 billion in 2017, a 6.4 percent increase from the amount repatriated in 2016. This makes Nigeria the highest in the Sub-Saharan region in terms of diaspora remittances and fifth in the world, thus echoing the positive contribution of Nigerians in the diaspora to the Nigerian economy,” she said.
Against this backdrop, Ezeokoli advised the government, health organizations, civil society groups and the private sector to facilitate the involvement of the Nigerian Diaspora in the development of Nigeria’s health sector, and in the process, get a better understanding of their size, composition and skills.
She further added that the October 18, 2018, Future of Health Conference, was in recognition of the giant strides Nigerians in the Diaspora are making to improve the health care delivery system in Nigeria.
“We aim to share impactful stories, opportunities and benefits of this ‘brain gain’ to Nigeria.
“We want to encourage the movement of the Nigerian Diaspora working to contribute and achieve greater impact and a stronger voice in matters that relate to strengthening local capacity and the delivering quality healthcare to the Nigerian people,” she remarked.
Also speaking, the Director, Policy and Advocacy, Nigeria Health Watch, Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor, stressed the positive contribution of the Nigerian health workers in the diaspora to the Nigeria’s economy through remittances.
To this end, Nsofor advised the Federal Government to take healthcare seriously and make it a major priority in view of its critical importance to lives of Nigerians .
He noted that the development makes Nigeria the highest in the Sub-Saharan region in terms of diaspora remittances and fifth in the world.
Citing the Guardian Newspaper reports as was linked in the media brief, he said: “Figures released February 2018 by the British government indicate that no fewer than 5,405 Nigerian-trained doctors and nurses are currently working with the British National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom UK.
“This means that Nigerian medics constitute 3.9 per cent of the 137,000 foreign staff of 202 nationalities working alongside British doctors and nurses.”
The media brief, which was issued earlier by Ms. Bunmi Oyebanji, on behalf of Nigeria Health Watch Team also acknowledged the “constructive contributions” of Diasporas to development
“These Diasporas are a great source of transfer of technical knowledge and skills in the form of ‘brain gain’. Where knowledge exchange is concerned, Diaspora members can act as important speakers between the technology utilized in medicine and healthcare in foreign countries and Nigeria.
“They can contribute these through not only permanent repatriation but also through short- term return,” the statement read.
Part of the statement is reproduced here:
The ‘Future of Health Conference 2018’
The Future of Health conference continues to be the leading platform that sets an actionable roadmap to advance the Nigerian health sector.
This is the biggest health event of the year, covering the salient macro issues facing the Nigerian health space and accommodating under one roof, inspiring speakers that can respond to some of the toughest challenges facing the Nigerian health ecosystem from the public and private sectors: stakeholders in health, development, academia, private sector and policy.
We at Nigeria Health Watch believe that a stimulating, intellectual discussion between the various stakeholders and members of the public is a necessary ingredient to move the Nigerian health sector forward. We also believe that to amplify new developments in the sector, it is crucial that we have the media on board to cover the conference, thus giving you the chance to create a compelling narrative that would contribute to the future direction of the sector.
Our objective is simple: to ignite change in the health sector by inspiring action through advocacy and action. The aim of the conference is for health professionals in Nigeria and the diaspora to see the opportunities in Nigeria’s health ecosystem and seek ways to leverage their specialist training to build networks that will strengthen the Nigerian health sector. The forum will address some of these issues:
•What are the current gaps and opportunities in Nigeria’s health sector?
•What are the strides achieved so far by the Nigerian diaspora health professionals?
•#BrainGain4Naija: How can we as an ecosystem of different parts, leverage this community and their specialist training to strengthen the Nigerian health sector?
We recognize the issues the Nigerian health sector faces as medical professionals constantly seek opportunities outside the country. Notwithstanding, we also recognize the giant strides Nigerians in the Diaspora are making to improve quality of healthcare in Nigeria. We will share impactful stories, opportunities and benefits to Nigeria, of the “Brain Gain”. We want to encourage this movement, to help strengthen the local capacity and delivery of quality healthcare to the Nigerian people.
The Media: A call for action
We enjoin the media not to relent in their role as a primary agent of change in Nigeria’s health sector, especially as we push towards “Ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages” in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 3. In step with the all-encompassing objective of this conference to highlight the current achievements and future possibilities inherent in Nigeria’s healthcare Diaspora, we call on media houses and journalists to lean more towards placing prominence on stories of the health diaspora as Nigeria’s Brain Gain as opposed to focusing on the negative narrative of the “Brain Drain”.
This can be done by:
•Producing and publishing stories on the strides being made by Nigerian diaspora medical doctors, clinicians and public health professionals in the diaspora and in Nigeria
• Producing and publishing stories on the strides being made by returnee medical doctors, clinicians and public health professionals in Nigeria
•Advocating for the Nigerian Government’s effort to creating an enabling environment for diaspora and returnee health professionals to contribute to the growth and development of the Nigerian health sector
• Advocating for stakeholders, including the private sector, clubs, societies, NGOs and social organizations to partner with diaspora and returnee healthcare professionals
•Maintaining your roles as the supporter, educator and promoter of healthcare and health sector issues in pushing the public agenda for better collective involvement in moving the sector forward.
In identifying newsworthy topics, journalists more often than not, seek out stories that promise to be potential attention grabbers. The tenets of this category of newsworthiness include controversy, irony, local “peg,” breakthrough, and all sorts that may seem to make the story more interesting. This contributes to the distortion of the key narrative, leaves out the crux of the material and defeats the purpose of good communication and advocacy. It is the wish of Nigeria Health Watch that health, opportunities, growth and development of the common man, the Nigerian diaspora, the health sector and the country, respectively, constitute the framework of media efforts at the 2018 Future of Health Conference.
Full media brief:Media Brief – Nigeria Health Watch 2018 Future of Health Conference