Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has expressed delight with Nigerian physicians in the Diaspora over their contributions to healthcare at home.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said the vice president received at the Presidential Villa, a delegation from Nigerian physicians in the Diaspora.
The delegation is from the US-based Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) and a team of Nigerian doctors from the Diaspora including those who have relocated back to the country to establish private hospitals.
The vice president said that practically everyone, whether he worked abroad or in Nigeria, had the same burden and desire to see the huge potential in the country transformed into something real.
“I think that it is a constant burden for people who are here, let alone people who are abroad, to see how well things can be done and how well things are going.”
“We must find a way of harnessing and galvanizing so that we can work toward making this country really work, not just for those who can afford it, but for the vast majority of our people who are disempowered.”
Osinbajo said that physicians in the Diaspora, especially in the US and Americas, had contributed very considerably to healthcare in Nigeria.
According to him, almost at every turn, they are contributing in terms of services in rural areas, medical teams everywhere providing all sorts of care, and these gestures have gone on for years.
“If there is any group of professionals good at giving back and showing that level of altruism, it is physicians in the Diaspora.”
“I commend you for that and to say that we are seeing a good number of physicians returning home to set up and establish businesses here.”
“It is a good thing that we have acknowledged the problems and issues in respect to establishing businesses here, including access to credit and power. I think that improving the environment generally will make a huge difference,” he said.
While addressing some of the concerns of the delegation with respect to healthcare financing, Osinbajo said that one of the major issues for a population of Nigeria’s size was that it could not depend on budget alone as it did not have enough resources.
“The way to go is to do a lot more in terms of health insurance and for government to provide a pool of resources from everyone, one way or the other, and begin by paying for some of those who cannot afford to,” Osinbajo said.
On the Healthcare Sector Reform Committee which the vice president chairs, he affirmed that a lot of the work being done at the committee had to do with general access to healthcare and how to make that easier.
“We hope that this particular healthcare reform effort would be one that would bring in more order into the way that we do things, particularly between the Federal Government and the states,” he said.
In his remarks, Dr. Sule Bassi, Secretary to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, who led the delegation, said he was happy that Nigerian physicians in the Diaspora were looking homeward.
“We are happy to deal with both Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora and those who are returning to set up practices here in Nigeria, thereby turning the brain drain to brain gain,” he said.
On his part, the President of ANPA, Dr. Christopher Okunseri, described the organization as one that had been in existence for over 27 years, registered in the US representing over 5,000 dentists and physicians across the US.
“We, as an organization, have a vision of a healthier Nigeria. We have an ANPA week and have three key areas of activities; first is the medical mission, second is advocacy and third is engaging with colleagues here in Nigeria in what is recognized as Continuing Professional Development (CPD),” Okunseri said.
Speaking on behalf of doctors who have returned home and established a private practice in Nigeria, Dr. Modupe Elebute, said it had been tough and difficult.
Elebute said, however, that it had given them a huge amount of joy impacting healthcare at home.
“The impact we are able to make to raise the standard of healthcare by bringing back years of experience, teaching, training, and consultant level attained abroad and trying to do research here in Nigeria,” she said.
Members of the delegation were top physicians in specialized fields of medicine such as neurology, gynecology, pediatrics, and orthopedics.
They included Dr. Chinyere Anyaogu, Dr. Iyore James, Dr. Benjamin Anyanwu, Dr. Abraham Osinbowale, and Dr. Ifeanyi Obiakor.
Others were Dr. Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor; Dr. Clifford Eke, Dr. Biodun Ogunbo, Dr. Dauda Balami, and other officials of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).