Health sector distresses as more Nigerian doctor’s move abroad

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More reasons have emerged on why no fewer than 5,405 Nigerian-trained doctors and nurses are currently working with the British National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and why more could join the league.

The figure, released by the British government, means Nigerian medics constitute 3.9 percent of the 137,000 foreign staff of 202 nationalities working alongside British doctors and nurses.

An investigation revealed that many more Nigerian doctors would join their colleagues soon because the U.K. has needs arise for medics from Commonwealth countries since some doctors in the European Union (E.U.) are already leaving because of Brexit.

It was also gathered that most of the Nigerian doctors and nurses are leaving for the U.K. because of better conditions of service. The migration has further worsened the physician-patient ratio in Nigeria from 1:4,000 to 1:5,000, contrary to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended 1:600. The physician-patient ratio in the U.K. is 1:300.

According to the WHO, countries with low physician-patient ratio have worse disease outcomes and life expectancy.

Meanwhile, figures from the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) showed that about 45,000 doctors are currently practicing in Nigeria. This means that 12 percent of 45,000 Nigerian doctors, that is 5,405, are practicing in the U.K. and the country is now left with less than 40,000, excluding those practicing in the U.S., South Africa, Saudi Arabia and others.

NMA President, Dr. Mike Ogirima, described the exodus of doctors as worrisome. He blamed the situation on poor remuneration for medical doctors, poor working environment and inadequate medical equipment and infrastructure.

According to him, the trend has worsened the doctor-patient ratio of 1:4,000, caused longer waiting time at hospitals, a rise in fatal disease outcomes, and more frequent medical errors by overworked doctors.

Ogirima said: “Nigeria is using her resources to train doctors and professionals that will leave to work in foreign countries. What are those things attracting these professionals outside? Can we duplicate them here?” he said

Meanwhile, Consultant Public Health Physician, Prof. Akin Osibogun, however, said the situation could be reversed if the Federal Government makes the National Insurance Scheme (NHIS) compulsory for all citizens. According to him, this would provide enough funds to improve the conditions of service and working environment for health professionals.

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