• Friday, May 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

‘Over 10,000 Nigerian doctors in US’

doctors-ebolaThe brain drain in the health sector of Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, has reached an alarming rate, as over 10,000 Nigerian medical doctors are currently practising in the United States alone.

Ironically, majority of influential Nigerians who seek medical tourism to the United States are mostly treated by Nigerian doctors there.

A former president, Association of Nigerian Physicians in Americas, Julius Kpaduwa, gave the stunning revelation in a chat with BusinessDay in Abuja.

Kpaduwa, who spent over 40 years in the US as a practising physician, harped on the need to replicate such massive health facilities abroad in the country.

He submitted that if noting urgent is done to checkmate the influx of Nigerian doctors into the US and other foreign countries, the number may increase in geometric progression in no distant time.

While stressing that government needs to have the political will as well as create the enabling environment for sophisticated health institutions to thrive in Nigeria, Kpaduwa hinted that a minimum of $50 million is needed to have a hospital of international standard in the country.

The medical doctor-turned politician who is currently eyeing the Imo Government House in 2015 said there is an urgent need to convince Nigerian professionals who ply their trade abroad to return home to contribute their own quota to develop the polity.

He explained that he is aspiring to become the next governor of Imo State because he wants to give visionary leadership that will galvanise the people, assuring that he will use his international contacts to make the state investors’ haven.

The former chairman of the board of Imo State University Teaching Hospital revealed that in the last 14 years, he had been engaged in free medical missions in all the three senatorial zones of the state, adding that the abject poverty he saw in the people as regards medical care compelled him to vie for the governorship seat.

It would be recalled that he was shot in 2002 when he first signified interest to run for the position but Kpaduwa said despite that tragic incident which caused him to be bedridden for two years, he is not deterred.

“I will bring in sincerity and at the top of the agenda the priority becomes the common good of the people, not individual pockets. I will bring in international contacts that I have developed over the years of living in the United States as a medical practitioner.

“These are individuals who, just on the basis of my own credibility, I can tell them to cover over even if it is the smallest amount of industry that we can attract, let us start from there and they will come”, he said.

On what should be done to dissuade influential Nigerians from seeking medical tourism abroad, he recalled, “In 2008, under my leadership as president of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in Americas, the very first Nigerian medical convention that we’ve ever had was done here in Abuja. And the purpose of that was for us to begin to create relationship with the Ministry of Health and other paramedical agencies in the country so that we can begin to contribute our own quota in terms of development of medical care in Nigeria.

“And that has paid off. We were able to seek funding from the United States of America, United States Agency for International Development (USAID). We were able to review the medical curriculum of all the medical schools in Nigeria which had not been done since medical schools started. We have completed that last year. Even though there had been some roadblocks to implement them because some people said they were not carried along. But eventually it will be implemented”.