Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, says his ‘Nigeria has enough doctors’ statement was taken out of context and ‘was not interpreted objectively’.
The former Anambra state governor had received varying measures of backlashes for saying Nigerian doctors are free to leave the country because the country has enough.
Perhaps, in response to these backlashes, the minister has called a press briefing where he tried to shed more light on his earlier statement.
“When I said I’m not worried about doctors leaving Nigeria, many people took it out of context. The problem is that my statement was not interpreted objectively. And it saddens me. I mean, what is not clear in what I said?” Ngige queried.
“I was simply referring to witch doctors, native doctors, spiritual healers, local midwives, herb sellers, ehm…ehm…and so on, and so on. Or do you think these people aren’t doctors too? It is what we all know, only few Nigerians can afford the bill of white collar doctors like me.
“As for how surplus they are, conduct a survey; you would be surprised with the number of these people this country is blessed with.
“In my hometown Anambra, for instance, the number of witch doctors and native doctors we have in Okija shrine alone is uncountable. And like Okija, we have many other shrines in Anambra. This is how it is in all other states. Can you now see?
“Talking of spiritual healers, they are in our churches and mosques. We don’t have so many churches and mosques than other countries for nothing. The spiritual doctors in these religious centres cast demons, perform miracles, heal lepers, cure AIDS, cure cancers. This means they are doing the work of doctors too.”
The Minister also explained that the population of Nigerian doctors in the diaspora is proof that, technically, Nigeria has enough Nigerian doctors who “may not necessarily be practising in Nigeria”.
But, he added, whenever some big Nigerian politicians travel for medical trips abroad, “they are treated by these Nigerian doctors. Meaning, the only difference is where they work, they are still our own.”
He paused to adjust the microphone. He then pointed out President Muhammadu Buhari as a beneficiary of this during his last long medical trip to the UK where he spent more than 100 days.
“Please feel free to quote me. I’m sure people should be convinced and not confused that truly, we have more than enough doctors in the country.”
While at Chris Ngige’s explanation, Nigeria, according to World Bank data, has a ratio of 0.395 for every 1000 Nigerians. Although, the World Health Organization (WHO) stipulates a national standard of 1 person to 600 doctors.
Comparatively, Austria, Italy and Switzerland respectively have, for every 1000 persons, 5.2, 4, and 4.2 doctors. China too, with a population of over 1.4 billion, has 1.9 doctors for the same number of persons.
It is believed that the minister’s statement, in spite of reality, came because of his years out of the hospital — either to test patients or to be tested himself. Reports flying around suggest that a team of doctors are planning to rescue the minister.
Caveat: This is a work of satire. Names or anything that has semblance with them, persons, wise or otherwise, offices, high or low, authorities, constituted or unconstituted, are as a result mixture of the author’s imagination and inspiration from Above, and any semblance of actual persons, far or near, organizations or body is the handiwork of Mr Coincidence. You have been told. Don’t say we haven’t!