I was misquoted on doctors free to leave statement — Ngige

Chris Ngige

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said that he was misquoted on a statement he made on Wednesday about Nigeria having enough doctors.

Ngige’s statement drew criticisms from Nigerians and even from the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and other related bodies.

The minister, in a statement on Thursday by his spokesperson, Nwachukwu Obidiwe, said he actually meant that since there was sufficient space for residency training for medical doctors in the country, graduate of medicine who could not find space for such training were free to seek such training in other countries and become professionals in their chosen field.

Ngige said: “I invite opinion moulders especially those who have spoken or written on this issue to watch the full clip of my interview with the channels.

“And it is for this reason that I admitted having a little cause to worry about brain drain among medical doctors.

“The fact is that while the federal government has recorded a remarkably steady improvement in our healthcare system, Nigeria is yet to get there.

“We do not at present have enough health facilities to accommodate all the doctors seeking to do tertiary specialist training (residency) in the Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centres and few accredited state and private specialist centres in the country where roughly 20% of the yearly applicants are absorbed while the remaining 80%, try their luck elsewhere.”

He explained that most of the rejected applicants usually throng the Federal Ministry of Health and Labour and Employment to complain of being illegally schemed out.

“What the Minister meant therefore is that these professionals have the right to seek for training abroad to sharpen their skills, become specialists and later turn this problem to a national advantage when they repatriate their legitimate earnings and later return to the country.

“Even where some of these doctors are bonded to their oversea training institutions, examples abound on the large number of them who have successfully returned to settle and establish specialist centres across the country. It is therefore a question of turning your handicap to an advantage,” the statement said.