Nigeria continues to lose experienced health workers to developed countries, says Pate

May 30, 2024

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Muhammad Pate has lamented that developing countries like Nigeria continue to lose their highly trained health professionals to developed countries that did not invest in their first professional education.

He made this assertion on Tuesday at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, noting that half the world’s population is experiencing deprivations of access to basic health care.

The 77th WHA with the theme, ‘All for Health, Health for All’, is being held from May 27 to June 1, 2024.

The minister, in a speech posted on his X handle, said the theme for this year’s WHA resonates with Nigeria’s Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative whose goal is to save lives, reduce pain, and produce health for all Nigerians.

He said The COVID-19 pandemic had laid bare the vulnerabilities in health systems, both in developed and developing nations and has challenged countries to rethink the connection between access to health and social justice.

Pate said, “As the world emerges from the pandemic, we would have thought that the sobering lessons of the pandemic reignite our determination to build political will, reinforce global solidarity, refocus on addressing global inequities, and invest in the global commons.

“No country can be an island in this hyperconnected world, facing serious threats from infectious diseases, climate change, and leadership dysfunction perpetuating devastating conflicts in too many regions, in parts of Africa, in the Middle East, and even in Europe. The gap between rhetoric and action cannot be louder at the global level. We cannot solve injustices with more injustice.

“Yet here we are in this Assembly struggling to build consensus on a fair and equitable pandemic accord (and revamped International Health Regulations), with a stronger technically sound WHO coordinating the centre. Almost completely forgotten the lessons of COVID-19 and debating the equivalence of public health and profits.”

The minister noted that half the world’s population is experiencing “health poverty”, deprivations of access to, and affordability of basic health care, such as immunisation, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health care.

He said even the significant progress made in addressing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria is looking fragile.

He added, “Many health systems remain weak and developing countries like Nigeria continue to lose their highly trained health professionals to the developed countries who did not invest in their first professional education.

“All these point to the continuing need to re-examine deeply the global health compact between our countries. To ask the legitimate questions of whether the global health architecture is still fit for purpose and whether we have the political will to reform it for a future of greater uncertainties. These are the questions that Nigeria would like members of the Assembly to ponder in the days ahead.

“In Nigeria, we cannot ask the global community to do what we are not willing to do ourselves. We take responsibility and are striving to rebuild our national health system, improve its governance, strengthen our public health capacities, and unlock our healthcare value chains.

“We are increasing domestic financing, expanding primary health care and financial protection for the poor and vulnerable, retraining frontline health workers and increasing training quotas for new ones, stimulating local production of commodities, reinforcing core public health capacities, strengthening prevention and preparedness, and controlling various disease outbreaks.”

Pate, however, called on international technical and financing health partners to match Nigeria’s commitments, align with the priorities and increase the shift to use national systems that are more sustainable and responsive to local needs.

“We see a strong Nigerian health system as integral to regional health security in Africa and global health security.

“Health is not a zero-sum game. As we deliberate during this assembly, let us be guided by empathy, wisdom, and a shared vision, for a safer, healthier, and more equitable world. Let us, indeed, be ‘All for Health, Health for All’, not only in slogan but in Action,” he concluded.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *