UK to help Nigeria halt brain drain in health sector—British envoy

Abuja—The United Kingdom says it will support the Nigerian government in preventing brain drain in the country’s health sector.

TheCable reports that Catriona Laing, British high commissioner to Nigeria, said the commitment was necessary following a recent spike in visa applications from Nigerians.

Catriona Laing

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) had earlier expressed concern with the recent trend of medical doctors leaving the country.

The medical body said there may be a need to hire doctors from foreign countries in the future.

Speaking on Sunday at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, Laing said the UK was mindful of the situation and was in talks with the Nigerian government to avoid causing a brain drain, especially in the health sector.

“We have a labour shortage in the UK at the moment. But we have to balance that because we do not also want to be responsible for a massive brain drain from Nigeria because you also need talented people,” Laing said.

“So the health sector is an example where there are a lot of Nigerian medics, both nurses and doctors, in the national health service.”

She, however, expressed her delight that the UK had become an attractive destination for Nigerians, especially students, adding that the UK was ready to welcome talent.

“You know, there are obviously people of Nigerian origin in the UK. So, people like to go where they have family or where they have friends.

“Secondly, the English language makes it a lot easier.

“Thirdly is the education, and people who have studied will want to return. And I think you know, we are a welcoming country, and we want to welcome talents, whether it’s people coming to study or people coming to work.

“So, a lot of Nigerians will be tuned to the UK, and we have seen a very big increase in requests for Nigerian student visas. That is partly because we have changed our policy.

“So it is now easier for Nigerians, students to remain after their studies, they can stay, I think up to two years if you have done a masters or a PhD, which will enable people to look for work after they have studied.”

According to Home Office, Nigerians accounted for the highest increase in the number of dependants accompanying persons with study visas for the year ending in June 2022.

The UK had said migrants from Nigeria may face restrictions following the country’s plans to cut net migration.

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