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Harnessing the power of policy coherence and story telling

To effectively reverse the brain drain in Nigeria’s health sector, Professor Onyemelukwe advocated for a comprehensive and strategic approach that encompasses policy coherence, bilateral agreements, holistic incentives, and storytelling to foster an environment conducive to the return and contribution of health professionals. 

Image credit: Nigeria Health Watch

Nigeria is on the World Health Organization (WHO) health workforce support and safeguards list 2023. These are countries with a density of doctors, nurses and midwives below the global median (49 per 10 000 population); and a UHC service coverage index less than 55. Prof Onyemelukwe believes that this represents an opportunity to address the underlying issues and tackle critical challenges such as fair recruitment practices, financial compensation for the training and development of healthcare professionals, and mechanisms for knowledge sharing and collaboration. “Basically, what it means is that we are training healthcare professionals for the world and it’s not as if we have enough for ourselves,” she said.

Nigeria has a National Diaspora Policy in place, which aims to recognise and harness the diapora’s potential, empower them to contribute effectively, and protect their rights and welfare. However, according to Prof Onyemelukwe who contributed to the policy’s drafting, “Since that time, some of the conversations that we have had, for example, around tax incentive and so on, have not yet yielded any fruit”. She also disclosed that a policy for health worker migration is under development and advocated for the involvement of all relevant stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive policy.


Prof Onyemelukwe in addition underscored the power of storytelling as a catalyst for change. She emphasised that positive examples and successful partnerships, alongside how a coherent approach to policy formulation and implementation can help reshape the narrative and foster a conducive environment for the return and active engagement of health professionals in the diaspora.



Culled: Nigeria Health Watch 

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