Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has underscored the urgent need for the Federal Government to ramp up the drive for the realization of the 25 percent needed to ensure universal healthcare coverage for all Nigerians through the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF).
Chairman of the Forum, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal who disclosed this in Abuja during an interactive session with the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, expressed grave concern over the preponderance of Medical Doctors seeking greener pastures abroad to the detriment of their fatherland.
While commending the Federal Government for the initiative of setting up the BHCPF, the NGF Chairman urged that it is important that the momentum of making the fund realizable is not slowed down.
He assured the apex government and the FMOH of transparency and accountability in the management of the fund by States, pointing out that its disbursement by the Forum will be based on the performance of the recipient states.
According to him, “health remains our priority,” as Governors, with a focus on building a resilient healthcare platform committed to routine immunization and total eradication of polio in the country.
According to him, although the Governors are desirous of building a resilient healthcare platform committed to routine immunization and total eradication of polio, in collaboration with global and local partners, their efforts will come to naught if the alarming trend continues unchecked.
“There are challenges but a lot has been achieved, particularly in the effort to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic,” which as a result made Nigeria come fourth out of 54 African countries under the Global Health Security Index for 2021.
Yet, the Governor said: “We are witnessing brain drain over the years. It is alarming. And, I believe it has something to do with the welfare of the medical personnel.
“I urge the Federal Government to do something about this urgently,” Governor Tambuwal said.
On his part, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, corroborated the governor on the issue of brain drain, noting that 3,000 Medical Doctors graduate annually in the country.
According to him, out of this number, he added, 1,000 leave the country every year.
He, however, said the Federal Government has been trying to create more space to employ this personnel despite demands for higher remuneration.
He explained that out of the medical doctors, those who are less likely to stay back in the country and for whom the incentive to do so is abysmal, are our experienced consultants. “They are the ones that worry us most because it takes a lot of money to train them and it is difficult to meet their expectations.”
The Minister, nonetheless, urged other State Governors to emulate the Sokoto state government which dedicates lots of resources to training medical doctors, who are subsequently employed by it.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Health, Hon. Joseph Ekumankama who expressed gratitude to the NGF and the Governor for the visit observed that with his new responsibility, the work of Governor Tambuwal is not limited to the health sector alone but all facets of life that affect Nigerians.
By Kehinde Akintola,