The Nigerian Health Ministry Backs Down on Long-Awaited Diaspora Professional Health Initiative (DPHI) Healthcare Program.

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The Nigerian Health Ministry Backs Down on Long-Awaited Diaspora Professional Health Initiative (DPHI) Healthcare Program.

“Why must everything that involves the Nigerian government have K-Leg?”

That was the reaction of a Nigerian medical practitioner who looked forward to the kick-off of the long-awaited initiative. Healthcare practitioners around the country are at a loss to what could have brought this last-minute bailout from the totally well-planned program.

The Diaspora Professional Health Initiative (DPHI) is an association comprised of medical practitioners from Nigerian who migrated to other foreign lands to practice their profession, most of its members are based in South Africa, The United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Germany, Russia a host of other nations.

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A prominent member of the association said that DPHI has been making preparation for the past three years with the Nigerian government, according to him, the preparation involved meetings where the leadership of the association made trips from their respective bases outside the country to Nigeria to deliberate on strategies through which DPHI members could come home to Nigeria to share their acquired skills with their professional brothers and sisters in Nigerian.

According to the member, sometime in 2019, the chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, met with them in Washington to discuss the modalities of the project, Abike Dabiri was said to have described the project as “a win-win situation for both sides, and ultimately for our country”, everything was going smoothly.

January 27th, 2020 was set as the kick-off date, and in preparing to make the project a success, the DPHI member said that

“27 physicians and nurses in oncology neurology nephrology and ophthalmology had bought tickets and volunteered to be in Abuja last week for the pilot phase of the DPHI that we have spent the last three years fleshing out with the ministry of health.”

However, on 20th of January, just 7 days to the kick-off of the much prepared and awaited event, the whole thing went sideways, the health minister, Osagie Ehanire told organizers of the program that the program “has been suspended till further notice”. Ehanire wrote

“I am aware the Federal Ministry of Health has been in cordial partnership with your associations to develop and improve Healthcare delivery services in Nigeria. I use this opportunity to express my delight, and appreciation of your various collective and individual contributions to the Health sector of your country,

“I wish to also commend all your contributions and enthusiasm for the launch of the pilot program of the brand new ‘Diaspora Professionals Healthcare initiative.’ It is a laudable idea that has been embraced by the Ministry of Health.

“However, I regret that due to salient circumstances around program design and preparation, this initiative, scheduled to be launched on the 27th January 2020 had to be abrogated and deferred until further notice. This will give us time for more detailed preparation to broaden and deepen the scope of your engagement and magnify the value to your service to country and people.

According to Ehanire’s letter, the project was canned “for far more impactful and beneficial delivery of service and utilization of knowledge and skills, better ‘ownership’ and appreciation by all stakeholders.”

A doctor who claimed to know how things work in Nigeria said that the project is “as good as dead”, according to him

“When you hear something like ‘put on hold till further notice’ in Nigeria, just know that, that project is as good as dead,”

One of the DPHI organizers who spoke on condition of anonymity said

“Of about 80,000 registered physicians with the medical council in Nigeria, 45,000 are now outside of Nigeria. The basic medium of informing the professionals in Nigeria and putting required materials in place in Nigeria, they did not do and yet they set the date and we sought for and told our initial batch of volunteers to buy air tickets. Then, abrupt cancellation of the program or postponement till whenever. Three years of planning!”

Ever since, it’s been communication blockage all over the place, until the publication of this news, Ehanire has not answered any of the calls placed to his phone neither has he responded to any of the numerous text messages sent to him for his reaction on the matter. Abike Dabiri-Erewa has also not responded to inquiries on the issue.

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