A U.S.- based Physician, Dr Terrance Baker, has charged Nigerians in diaspora to return home to build a more resilient healthcare system in the country.
Baker made the call at the 5th Annual International Conference of the Nigeria Association of Foreign Trained Pharmacists (NAFTraPh) on Thursday in Lagos.
Baker is a Johns Hopkins Community Physician, Department of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. and the Producer of Doctors in the House, a TV show in the U.S.
The theme for the three-day conference is: “Social Determinants of Health and Populations Health Outcomes in a Developing Economy- Nigeria’s Perspective”.
He urged the Nigerian government to welcome diasporas who want to return home to help make the country better, by creating enabling environment that would make them comfortable.
According to him, sending money back to the country is not enough to fix the country.
Baker noted that many Nigerians in the Americans and Europe were tremendously very influential, noting that they included men and women who were successful, financially.
“Many of them send money home, but I believe that the diaspora should be encouraged to actually return home.
“For example, Nigerian pharmacists are going to get training and experience and are returning home to change the healthcare system.
“I believe the diaspora must come home. I believe they can’t improve Nigeria from afar, they can’t rule, they can’t manage it from a distance.
“You cannot manage your country from a thousand miles away, it is very hard.
“They need to come and be part of it; the diaspora need to invest in farming and farm equipment. They need to come and put their money to improve the food emergency.”
He delivered a Keynote Address titled “Social Determinants of Health and Populations, Health Outcomes in a Developing Economy – Nigeria’s Perspective”.
He said there were several concerns that caused healthcare to be poor in most parts of Nigeria.
He listed the concerns to include poverty, inadequate housing, inadequate water and sanitation, inadequate transportation, safety concerns of terrorism and violence.
“I am happy to be here to deliver the keynote address at the 5th conference of internationally trained pharmacists who have returned back to Nigeria to practice pharmacy.
“Today, we discussed social determinate of healthcare and in Nigeria today, there several key concerns that cause healthcare to be poor throughout most of Nigeria.
“For example, 2.500 children between the ages of zero to 25 years will die today and most as a result of poverty, inadequate housing, inadequate water and sanitation, inadequate transportation, safety concerns of terrorism and violence.
“Nigeria is currently in the middle of a food insecurity emergency and I believe the emergency can be addressed.”
According to him, Nigeria is in a position to be one of the greatest nations in the African continent.
“I believe Nigeria uniquely has a workforce and has the resources necessary to lead the world.
“Nigerians in medicine, medical doctors in America, Europe and Asia lead the world in medicine.
“Pharmacist throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Asia, Europe lead the world in the care of patients in pharmacy and nursing.
“Nigerian nurses are a major workforce throughout the world caring for patients.
“Nigerians have proven that they have the unique capability in health and can also lead the world; either way, that determines a workforce for the entire world,” he said.
Mrs Sherese ljewere, a Clinical Nutrition Consultant, talked on the need to improve child and maternal health not negating paternal health.
“The foetus origin of disease is ensuring that the mother’s maternal health and the father’s paternal health are good before pregnancy.”
Ijewere, Founder/CEO, Carib Health Ltd., a Health, Wellness, and Nutrition Company in Ikoyi, Lagos, urged couples to ensure that they are physically fit before, during and after pregnancy.
In her presentation titled: “Nutrition, Fetal Origin of Diseases, and Population’s Health”, she said they must consume lots of fruits and vegetables to maintain wellness.
She urged people to avoid processed, refined and sweetened food but consume whole food like tubers, roots, vegetables, fruits as well as engage in regular exercising.
She urged people to also have proper mindset and lifestyle.
She urged the government to empower more women and youths in urban farming to discourage them from consuming refined food.
Dr Anthony Ihenatu, Chairman/ CEO, Archy Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Lagos, urged the Federal Government to address the issues of multiple taxation, multiple regulation, infrastructure, electricity and insecurity.
“Other challenges that must be urgently addressed include increase in the price of raw materials and depreciation of Naira.
“I believe the first thing the government should do is to save the Nigerian naira by doing what they have to do.
“ Nigerians are one of the best economists in the world.
“They know what to do to prop-up the value of the Naira,” he said.
Ihenatu spoke on a paper titled, “Pharmaceutical industry practice during economic downturn: what is the way forward?”.
Earlier, Dr John Ejezie, President, Nigeria Association of Foreign Trained Pharmacists (NAFTraPh), said that the association would continue to promote professional growth and development as well as sense of community service.
According to Ejieze, NAFTraPh is a professional organisation that educates, sensitizes, trains members and others, creates health awareness, and promotes community capacity building and effective utilization of pharmaceutical products.
He, however, urged the Federal Government to address the mirage of challenges facing the health sector and country in general.
He also urged the government to address the Naira and foreign exchange challenges.
“In 2023, we have continued to experience supply chain challenges, and paucity of goods and services especially in the healthcare sector.
“Currently, we experience high inflation rates that are at all time high.
“These socio-economic menaces are experienced across the globe, but developing economies are disproportionately impacted due to non-robust socio-economic structures that may not absorb such societal and economic shocks.
“Despite all these societal menaces and socio-economic challenges, we cannot let those wonderful dreams and aspirations dissipate, or anyone or circumstance to kill it,” he said.