The challenges confronting the nation’s health sector is far from being over as a new survey conducted by NOIPolls in partnership with the Nigeria Health Watch, has revealed that eight in 10 Nigerian doctors representing 88 percent are seeking employment abroad.
The reasons for their leaving the country in the recently released survey, were because some of the countries of their destinations like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa among others, appreciate their doctors by providing them with better facilities and work environment, higher remuneration, better welfare packages and benefits, career progression and professional advancement.
Sadly , while the Registrar, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria(MDCN), Dr Ibrahim Abdulmumini and other stakeholders are lamenting that the 3,000 to 3,500 doctors produced annually in Nigeria are not enough to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard, 88 percent of the few available ones are making frantic effort to leave the country in search of greener pastures. According to Abdulmumini, going by WHO recommendation of about one doctor to 600 patients, “we have over 3,000 patients per doctor in this country”.
The survey titled: “Emigration of Nigerian Medical Doctors” which involved 705 doctors at home and abroad, revealed that the reasons why many of the doctors in Nigeria were migrating to others countries particularly to the United States and the United Kingdom, were because of high taxes and deductions from salary(98 percent), low work satisfaction(92 per cent). Others were poor salaries and emoluments(91 percent), huge knowledge gap(47) percent, poor quality of practice, among others.
Findings by The Daily Times revealed that on the MDCN master register, Nigeria has about 45,000 doctors on ground while 15000 to 20000 are working outside the country.
In a country that contributes 10 percent of global maternal and child deaths, this development expert says, is worrisome and therefore, calls for urgent attention by the government. According to experts, the shortfall in the number of doctors and specialists has worsened the health care system in the country.
Reacting to the survey during an interview with The Daily Times, Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH)Idi-Araba, Prof. Chris Bode, said for him, the government did well in the 70s and 80s to have invested heavily in healthcare capacity building.
Bode said with over 36 teaching hospitals in Nigeria that produce doctors, the country has what he described as “impressive” capacity to produce adequate manpower required in the country, stressing that the training of doctors is strictly regulated by MDCN.