Gains of Historic meeting between Minister of State for Health and 400 Nigerian Diaspora Physicians

By Abraham Ariyo

The Honorable Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Tunji Alausa, made history today. He was the first ever occupant of the position of Minister in the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria to hold an open dialogue with all Nigerian healthcare professionals in the Diaspora.

Organized by his Special Adviser on Diaspora Health Affairs, Dr. Bayo Adedewe, the Zoom meeting was informative, engaging, and stimulating.
About 400 distinguished physicians, surgeons, professors, and allied practitioners from around the globe were present.

Under the leadership of the Honorable Minister of Health, Professor Pate, and Dr. Alausa himself, Dr. Alausa reported on some of the progress the reinvigorated ministry has achieved in the last nine months under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Dr. Alausa was full of energy and enthusiasm as he laid out his plans, which he called his four pillars of action. As an American-trained nephrologist himself, he encouraged Diaspora participation in the ongoing efforts to improve the quality of health care and research in Nigeria. He challenged the attendees to be loyal to Nigeria as Americans are loyal to their country.

He stated that Healthcare is a priority for the current administration under President Tinubu, as evidenced by the current healthcare budget being the largest in Nigeria’s history, and that anything the Ministry of Health needs under President Tinubu’s leadership is appropriately answered, sometimes causing envy among other departments.

He spoke about the upcoming upgrades of Major Hospitals and Federal Medical Centers and the expansion of Healthcare nationwide. Addressing the shortage of healthcare workers, he challenged the Diaspora Physicians to engage and come to the table and help enhance the quality using human power and digital resources to improve healthcare delivery in Nigeria.

According to him, Nigeria has been absent on the world stage regarding healthcare delivery, but under President Tinubu, Nigeria is back.

Dr. Abike Dabiri, the Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, was also present. She stated that the highly productive and existing Diaspora-Nigeria Healthcare initiative has been in the works for years but was obliterated and comatose under the last administration. She stated that it’s time to renew and reengage the enthusiastic Diasporas Healthcare expatriates because we now have a new partner in the Ministry of Health in Nigeria.

In addressing the shortage of doctors and allied medical professionals, he said they have given directives to double the intake at all the Medical Schools and allied health departments. He further illustrated how Lagos State will pioneer new Healthcare as a model for all 36 states. In his innovative approach, using Lagos as an example, he believes that many Lagos General Hospitals can be used as clinical training grounds for the new Health Sciences University in Lagos.

In response to a caller stating that a Dental School needed more dental chairs and equipment and was facing accreditation issues, he proudly presented what Ibadan College of Medicine showed him. He was impressed with the Provost’s presentation, showing him details of a multimillion-dollar hostel building under construction that Ibadan Medical Alumni fully funded. The Provost told him that the Medical Alumni kept the College of Medicine afloat and challenged the caller and every attendee to use Ibadan Alumni as a template and donate generously to their respective alma maters.

He enthusiastically answered every question in detail and with authority and took direct questions from callers from the USA, Britain, Australia, Canada, and Saudi Arabia. After almost 3 hours, the attendees were satisfied with his visionary approach and detailed answers and look forward to the next round of engagement.

It was the first of his kind, and the participants were already salivating for the next session.

Dr. Ariyo is a Cardiologist in Texas and the President of the Ibadan College of Medicine Alumni Association in the USA

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