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Africa’s Chief Health Leader Hopes to Put the Brain Drain into Reverse

Dr John Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said they were planning a programme to attract scientists, doctors and nurses back from the diaspora. “We need a very deliberate programme that facilitates Africans in the diaspora to come back to the continent and do a rotation. A Ghanaian or Nigerian in London doesn’t just wake up in the morning and think, ‘I’m going to go to Nigeria for a year.’ That person needs lodging, basic transportation. They have responsibilities, a job.” He said the Africa CDC would soon put forward a package of measures to the African Union commission to create a regional health treaty to govern the pandemic response, which would include support for expatriates. Research by the House of Commons library last year showed that 2.5% of NHS England’s 1.35 million staff were African. The largest proportion were the 10,494 from Nigeria, with a further 4,780 from Zimbabwe, 3,395 from Ghana and 2,895 from Egypt. Nigeria has about 72,000 registered doctors, but only 35,000 were practising in the country in 2021, according to Abba Moro, a Nigerian senator.