Pate, Health Ministry RAN autonomy
Prof. Muhammed Ali Pate

We Have Recruited 2,497 Healthcare Workers in Six Months – Pate

The Nigerian government has said it is addressing the challenges posed by the exodus of healthcare workers abroad.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, a professor, said on Wednesday that the federal government has recruited more than 2,000 health workers in the last six months to augment the brain drain being experienced in the sector.

Speaking at a ministerial briefing, Mr Pate added that an additional 1,400 health facilities now have skilled birth attendants to assist in deliveries at the health facilities.

“In the last six months, the Government of Nigeria recruited 2,497 Doctors, Midwives/Nurses, and CHEWs to bridge the gaps due to attrition,” he said, adding that the government’s effort has increased the number of health facility deliveries as high as 230,000 deliveries per month.

Brain drain

For years, Nigeria has recorded a trend of healthcare professionals leaving the country due to low remuneration and unfavourable working conditions. As more healthcare workers leave the country, Nigeria’s doctor-patient ratio worsened.

This has led to a shortage of skilled health workers in the country which has also negatively affected the quality of healthcare services provided to citizens.

Various statistics show that over 5,000 Nigerian medical doctors have migrated to the UK between 2015 and 2022.

Last December, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) raised concerns over the unabating flight of health professionals from the country and the government’s failure to tackle the challenge head-on.

The Medical Professional Association warned that the country is already on the verge of a significant health crisis that can only be remedied by reversing the trend of medical professionals leaving the country.

“The government must show better political commitment to health and prioritise healthcare provision in their scales of preference, provide robust access to social amenities and upgrade decaying utilities, rejig national security architecture for the safety of all citizens, and provide increased gainful employment opportunities for doctors,” it said.

However, the Nigerian government in January approved the recruitment requests by certain health institutions in the country, a situation that Mr Pate said would accelerate the hiring of healthcare workers and reduce delays.

“The replacement of health workers that leave often takes a very long time because the waiver process takes several stages,” Vanguard Newspaper quoted him as saying at the time.

Strengthening PHCs

The minister stated that the federal government also prioritises the revitalisation of primary healthcare facilities across the country.

“Through sustained investment and strategic partnerships, we have expanded access to vital healthcare services, particularly in rural and underserved areas, improving health outcomes and reducing the burden of preventable diseases,” he said.

The minister added that the government efforts have yielded results, increasing the proportion of women who attend AnteNatal Care (ANC).

He said “Over 550,000” women now attend their first ANC and are armed with the right information and care to improve their pregnancy outcomes and reduce maternal and child mortality,” he stated.

He added that the government would be releasing N50 billion as the first tranche of the Basic Healthcare Fund, “a significant increase from N25 billion allocated in 2022.”

Health insurance

The minister added that the government has enrolled 750,000 more Nigerians in the health insurance scheme since the beginning of President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

“Recognising that financial barriers often deter individuals from seeking medical care, we have worked tirelessly to increase the accessibility and affordability of health insurance schemes,” he said.