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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Brain Drain: Nigeria Loses 16,000 Doctors in Five Years, Leaving Only 55,000 Behind

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The Nigerian government has revealed that the country now has only 55,000 licensed doctors to serve its growing population of over 200 million.

During an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, also disclosed that about 16,000 doctors left the country in the last five years and about 17,000 have been transferred.

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Mr Pate lamented the mass exodus of doctors, health workers, tech entrepreneurs, and various professionals abandoning the country for better opportunities abroad, while the country is “barely managing” the available ones.

According to the Minister, Nigeria has about 300,000 health professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, laboratory scientists, and others.

“We did an assessment and discovered that we have 85,000 to 90,000 registered Nigerian doctors. Not all of them are in the country,” he said.

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“Some are in the diaspora, especially in the US and UK. But there are 55,000 licensed doctors in the country.”

Impact

Speaking further, the minister expressed concern over the impact of brain drain on the health sector, stating that it has deprived Nigeria of its top medical professionals, resulting in a scarcity of healthcare practitioners.

He also highlighted an uneven distribution issue, with a significant concentration of skilled doctors in urban centres like Lagos and Abuja.

He explained that in Lagos, the population of doctors overall is about 7,600 and 4,700 in Abuja.

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“The doctor-to-population ratio in Abuja is 14.7 per 10,000 population; in Lagos, it is about 4.6, even though the average is 2.2 by 10,000,” he said.

The Minister stressed the critical role of human resources in a robust health sector, saying Nigeria cannot afford to keep losing its top talents to developed nations.

He added that the government is making efforts to enhance the training programme and incentivise healthcare workers who opt to remain in the country.

“Now to the ‘Japa’ you talk about, it is not only limited to Nigeria. It is a global phenomenon,” he said, adding: “Other countries don’t have enough and they are asking to take more.”

Brain Drain in Nigeria

Nigeria has been battling the increasing exodus of healthcare professionals, especially doctors, pharmacists, and nurses, to developed countries.With a doctor-patient ratio over five times worse than the WHO recommendation, Nigeria has continued to lose hundreds of doctors annually to brain drain.

READ ALSO: Brain Drain: We have recruited 2,497 healthcare workers in six months – Minister

Various statistics show that over 5,000 Nigerian medical doctors have migrated to the UK between 2015 and 2022.

According to data documented by the Development Research and Project Centre (dRPC), 233 Nigerian doctors moved to the UK in 2015; the number increased to 279 in 2016; in 2017 the figure was 475, in 2018, the figure rose to 852, in 2019 it jumped to 1,347; in 2020, the figure was 833 and in 2021, it was put at 932.

As of July, the President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Emeka Orji, revealed that the association is left with only a few over 9,000 medical doctors, due to the brain drain crisis in the healthcare system.

The continued emigration of health practitioners has led to a shortage of skilled health workers in the country, which has negatively affected the quality of healthcare services provided to the citizens.

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