Since I left Nigeria after completing medical school, I have been back several times and have been in contact with my school mates both inside and outside Nigeria. I have been involved in both soft and heated discussions on the path forward for health care in Nigeria. In some cases, people have blamed physicians like me who received medical education in Nigeria then left Nigeria. In other cases, people see physicians like me as a potential to help pull Nigeria forward by collaborating with our colleagues in Nigeria.
I have had several opportunities to speak with Nigerian physicians in Diaspora that have gone home “successfully”, others who had to rush out after going home and many others who want to yield to calls from both the Nigerian government and people of Nigeria to return home to help.
Although I believe all physicians do not have to go back to Nigeria to help, I think a critical mass may need to go home to develop a collaborative atmosphere that currently is lacking in many medical schools in Nigeria, and which inhibits the potentials of working across the Atlantic.
In a recent report that appeared in The Guardian, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Akin Osibogun, announced an initiative to “boost medical tourism” through a “public -private initiative arrangement”. After reading this story, I wondered if it would be helpful for physicians who have gone home successfully and those who had to return to share their experiences with ANPA members as there might be a lesson or two they can give those thinking of returning home on the “dos” and “don’ts”.
The Indian government successfully attracted its citizens in diaspora back to their country by working with them to answer the question: what do you need for the government to have in place (policy) for you to come back?
Will Nigeria do the same?