The Senate Committee on Health has said the migration of doctors abroad has some benefits, saying many were returning to the country with skills and resources to give back.
The chairman of the committee, Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe, said this when he led other members on an oversight duty to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital.
Oloriegbe, however, said there were ongoing efforts to source for resources to ensure better pay and improved welfare for doctors and health workers in the country.
He linked migration of Nigerian health workers abroad to the basic law of demand and supply as well as pricing, noting that considering a legislation to restrict such movement was an infringement on the rights of individuals.
“What we are doing is to get extra resources to enable us to pay our health workers more generally. It is not only doctors; we have nurses going out in droves. But secondly is also to better the environment where they work.
“When you are talking about people going out, there is also internal migration, because people also have to internally go either out of the public sector to the private sector or out of even the health sector to other sectors.
“But the other good thing, because I am a member of the Diaspora committee, is that a lot of Nigerians that have gone out, are coming back to establish hospitals. They are coming back to give their skills into this country. So, it has an advantage. When people go out, they acquire more skills, they acquire resources and they come back home to give back.
“So, we cannot say people should not go out. The only thing is that there are laws that if you are trained, you have to be bonded and serve some years after that you are free to be able to do your service,” he stated.
Oloriegbe expressed happiness at the facilities at the UPTH, pointing out that soon health workers would not have any reason to travel outside to seek greener pastures, as the Federal Government was determined to improve their welfare.
Oloriegbe, who represents Kwara Central in the Senate, said, “I’m impressed with what I see in UNIPORT Teaching Hospital. We have more than 250 consultants here, that’s a lot. These are specialised people which we have used Nigerian resources to train.
“It means we are training people for our people. There would be equilibrium as we go along, but because we have a large population like I said, we cannot afford to obstruct labour movements.”
Earlier, the UPTH Chief Medical Director, Prof. Henry ugboma said the institution was in dire need of rehabilitation and solicited the support of non-governmental organisations and corporate individuals to make the institution a five-star hospital.