By Tope Fayehun,
A medical expert , Prof.Joseph Balogun ,has said, Nigeria can drastically reduce cases of medical tourism if the government encourages health professionals in the Diaspora to come home to practice in the country’s teaching and specialist hospitals.
Balogun, a Professor of Physiotherapy, Chicago State University, U. S. A, said despite all the bad news at the home front, many Nigerians health professionals in Diaspora are willing to come back home and assist in various ways to develop the country’s health sector .
The don, in a lecture delivered at the second distinguished guest lecture of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo city, on Monday, noted that with the appropriate incentives from the Federal Ministry of Health or the universities, many of these health professionals in the diaspora can partner with their colleagues in the country to positively contribute to the healthcare system .
Balogun, in the lecture titled :”The Case for a Paradigm Shift in the Education of Healthcare Professionals in Nigeria”, said aside from the under production of healthcare professionals in the country, the nation is also hit hard by a continuing brain drain as a result of limited career opportunities and poor remunerations .
While saying, one of the major dysfunctions within the Nigerian healthcare system is the shortage of healthcare care professionals, Balogun noted that the physician /patient ratio in Ondo state is about 1:14,000 compared to the 1:5,000 prescribed by WHO-global standards.
The development ,according to him when compared to the rest of the world, Nigeria has one of the health professional ratio in the world.
He said, “Nigeria desperately needs uncompromised leaders with excellent management, strategic planning experiences, and forward thinking vision that will address the multi-faceted challenges within the healthcare system.
“One expert projected that Nigeria needs over 40,000 physiotherapist to be able to meet the growing demands for rehabilitation services in both rural and urban centres.
“To identify the medical equipment and pharmaceutical product needs within our healthcare system, ongoing collaboration should be fostered between our biomedical technologists, and the healthcare professionals. The outcome of such collaboration should lead to development of local medical equipment and pharmaceutical products and that development will lead to a giant cost savings within the healthcare system.
“To stem the colossal cost of medical equipment and pharmaceutical products that is currently a major drain on the already sparse healthcare budget, there is an urgent need to train local technical experts to repair the major medical equipment in the country.
“The budget allocation to the health as a percentage of the GDP in Nigeria should be increased to 15% in line with 2001 Abuja Declaration. This level of funding is necessary for the nation to begin to experience any meaningful improvement in the health sector. Every country gets the type of health service they pay for and Nigeria is no different. “