The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has told Nigerian doctors planning to emigrate to the United Kingdom to take note of the fact that they will not be paid hazard allowance if they do so.
Ehanire said this during the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 on Thursday.
The minister was responding to a question regarding the failed attempt of 58 doctors to travel to the UK last week.
Checks by our correspondent showed that until June, medical doctors in Nigeria earned N5,000 or $12.95 as monthly hazard allowances
The 58 doctors, who had received provisional employment in the UK, were stopped by the Nigeria Immigration Service at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, last week because they did not have visas.
Ehanire said, “I think we are one of the few countries giving hazard allowance. This UK where they are going, there is no hazard allowance, they don’t give doctors hazard allowance but you just get your salary, that is all because I have spoken to the doctors there.
“They say it is part of your job and that is what you are trained for. They don’t pay you anything but here apart from your salary we try to add something to it with the hope that you will stay. We also appeal to state governments to prioritize the employment of doctors some of whom have not been employed.”
The minister said he was also informed that doctors were migrating from the UK hence it was not only a Nigerian challenge.
“Even in the UK they are losing doctors to other countries so they think there is a movement but I think we have to look at our own situation the best way we can,” he said.
The minister said Nigeria would not stop doctors who wanted to emigrate but they must ensure that they have visas.
Ehanire stated, “With regards to the 58 doctors, we were all surprised to hear that they were at the airport and it was irregular in that many of them did not have visas. I don’t know what evidence you have whether they have left the country but no one should leave the country without a visa.”
He argued that Nigerians who became doctors through subsidized education and scholarship ought to remain in the country and give back to their community.
The minister said this remained an obligation that should take precedence above financial consideration.
Ehanire said, “Those who were trained through scholarship or whose training was subsidized and have jobs here actually have a moral responsibility to give back because even now we have large numbers of Nigerian doctors in the UK, the US and Europe who apply to come here every year and serve even though they weren’t trained here or at the state’s expense.
“It is just a moral obligation. They are called the Diaspora Health Professionals Initiative. Some spend their own money, come with their own equipment even though they owe the country nothing.”