US based Nigerian medical doctors under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA), have given the Federal Government some conditions under which they can transfer their services home.
Speaking through their National President, Nkem Chukwumerije, during a courtesy call on the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Lanre Tejuosho, at the National Assembly complex, the physicians said they had passion to return and work for their fatherland but lamented that government was not doing enough to encourage their relocation.
Among the list of incentives listed by ANPA are, granting them low interest loans and high reduction in tariff of transportation of medical equipment into the country.
The Physicians outlined poor remuneration, inadequate modern equipment and a lack of low interest loans for those who want to set up medical facilities in Nigeria as some of the impediments to their homecoming.
According to medical doctors, the major barrier preventing their relocation back to Nigeria is incentive, pointing out that every human character and behavior is linked to incentives. Some of the incentives to get back the medical doctors abroad to Nigeria are not in place.
In their words:
“Most of us here love our country and our hearts are in Nigeria but we just have to be physically at another country. We are very passionate about improving health care system here but the incentives, especially remuneration sends people out and force them to remain abroad.”
The group also cited lack of proper equipment to work with as one of the impending barriers to their return. Most people abroad honestly want to come back. But to physically relocate, they will need the right financial incentives.
The medical practitioners requested the Federal Government to provide low interest loans for health care workers so that medical practitioners abroad could bring their money and have access to low interest loans.
They disclosed that a majority of Nigerian doctors abroad desire to come back home but cannot finance the relocation process and the cost of setting up modern medical facilities in Nigeria, because bringing in medical equipment is expensive due to customs tariff and other fees.
Chukwumerije also asked that government give them the opportunity to work in a structured arrangements with the federal, states and local governments, and also with private sector without barriers.
Senator Lanre Tejuosho, in his response, expressed the commitment of the federal government to address the issue of Nigerian doctors who are relocating abroad in droves for greener pastures as according to him, the country loses over a billion dollar annually to medical tourism.
He said the government was also determined to reverse the trend starting with the ANPA members who he urged to take advantage of the technology they are using in America to consult for doctors in Nigeria.
He, however, urged the medical practitioners to take the advantage of the low interest loans available in their country of residence to access finance because the country currently lacked the financial capability to grant such request.