In response to the comments attributed to Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of labour and productivity, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and National Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) have described the ministers statment as "unfortunate".
On Wednesday, Ngige had said he was unconcerned about the migration of Nigerian doctors to other countries, claiming they were a source of foreign exchange.
Asked to comment on brain drain and if the deliberate recruitment of Nigerian doctors by foreign embassies is detrimental to the nation's health sector, Ngige had said: “No, I am not worried [about doctors leaving the country]. We have surplus.
"If you have surplus, you export. It happened some years ago here. I was taught chemistry and biology by Indian teachers in my secondary school days. There are surplus in their country and we also have surplus in the medical profession in our country. I can tell you this. In my area, we have excess.
“Who said we don’t have enough doctors? We have more than enough. You can quote me. There is nothing wrong in them travelling out. When they go abroad, they earn money and send them back home here. Yes, we have foreign exchange earnings from them and not just oil.”
In response, however, Adedayo Faduyile, the NMA President, said Nigeria suffers from an inadequacy of doctors.
“That is an unfortunate statement which shows that he has done nothing in medical practice," he said.
“The World Health Organisation stated that, for optimal healthcare to be achieved, we need doctor/patient ratio of one to 600. In Nigeria, we have 40,000 doctors taking care of 200 million people.
“It’s unfortunate, we do not have enough doctors. Maybe he is looking at the monetary part, but there is opportunity cost. We have the maternal mortality that is about the highest in the world. To correct it, we need health professionals around.”
Dr. Olusegun Olaopa, NARD President, said Ngige spoke as a politician.
“He spoke as a politician who does not know what is happening in the country," Olaopa said. “The doctors we are losing are not fresh doctors but specialists. That means that Nigeria will continue to battle with shortage of specialist doctors."