Six in 10 doctors “plan to leave” or “have the intention to leave” Nigeria as soon as possible, according to the latest survey conducted by the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
The survey shows only 12,297 resident doctors now work in both federal and state tertiary health institutions.
“As of the last time we issued the questionnaire, we found that out of 10 resident doctors, six of them are planning to leave or have the intention to leave.
“The statistics we had then was in December 2021. So, it’s either they are planning to leave or they have thought of leaving,” NARD President Dare Ishaya said.
“As we speak, I am aware that a lot of my colleagues are working towards leaving the country, and there are a lot of factors responsible for that. The push factor is majorly the economy.
“Of course, you will agree with me that we are having inflation in the country and the rate at which our naira is being devalued is alarming.
“If you compare our pay with the pay where most of these health workers go, you will discover that what we earn here is not up to one-tenth of what they get practising there.
“As long as these factors exist, our members and other health workers will continue to seek greener pastures except if things are done to reverse them.”
Ishaya said there are 9,297 resident doctors in Federal Tertiary Health Institutions (FTHI) between 2,000 and 3,000 in State Tertiary Health Institutions (STHI).
To this end, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) President Uche Ojinmah warned the brain drain would get worse unless working conditions improve.
“From 1960 till today, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria [MDCN] has registered about 80,000 doctors in Nigeria, and some have come in to practise in Nigeria,” he said.
“You will know that from 1960 till date, some have died, some are no longer practising, some are incapacitated, some have joined politics and a reasonable number of about 20,000 to 25,000 are practising outside the country.
“So, by the last analysis we had, we had between 20,000 and 25,000 doctors in Nigeria and this number is supposed to take care of 200 million people.
“So, we have a ratio of one doctor to between 4,000 and 5,000 patients. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation [WHO] recommended one doctor for 600 patients.”
Meanwhile, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) on Thursday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and his Health counterpart, Osagie Ehanire, over the mass exodus of Nigerian doctors to foreign countries.
The civil rights advocacy group in a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the ministers must be held accountable for the brain drain that has hit the country’s health sector.
HURIWA slammed Ngige and Ehanire for the poor management of human resources especially in the health sector.
The statement read: “Of recent, Ehanire had carelessly said, ‘We have heard complaints of doctors who are now leaving the system, but there are actually enough doctors in the system because we are producing up to 2,000 or 3,000 doctors every year in the country and the number leaving is less than 1,000.’
“In 2019, Ngige, who is also a medical doctor, had flippantly said he is not worried about doctors leaving the country, saying,’ We have a surplus. If you have a surplus, you export.’
“The Nigerian Medical Association and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors continue to lament that there are between 20,000 and 25,000 doctors in Nigeria. Going by Nigeria’s population of over 200 million people, that is by a ratio of one doctor to between 4,000 and 5,000 patients whilst the World Health Organisation recommends one doctor for 600 patients.
“It is shameful the statements credited to both ministers in media reports. Obviously, the health sector is in a comatose with President Buhari spending about 300 days in the United Kingdom on medical vacation whilst doctors embark on strike every other day.
“Ngige and Ehanire are classical failures in this administration that have created spectacular social, economic and security concerns for Nigerians yet President Buhari can’t sack them as if to say there’s a secret oath sworn by those controlling central government to hear no evil see no evil but do all evil s and be protected.
“Overall, the President must better the standard of living of doctors which is the cardinal reason they are leaving the country.
“The President should demonstrate that he is not insensitive and irresponsible by sacking these non performing ministers and pick competent Nigerians to handle these critical sectors.”