By Patience Ivie Ihejirika
While Nigeria’s population is expanding geometrically, the health care workforce is shrinking drastically, as doctors to patient ratio in the country drops to 1:10,000 as against the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 1:1,000.
The mass exodus of skilled medical practitioners from Nigeria is deepening the existing health care crisis, with very few medical personnel available to treat the population.
Available statistics show that Nigeria lost over 9,000 medical doctors to the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America between 2016 and 2018. Also, a total of 727 medical doctors trained in Nigeria, relocated to the United Kingdom alone in six months, between December 2021 and May 2022.
The data from the Register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) of the UK, shows that the number of Nigeria-trained nurses increased by 68.4 percent from 2,790 in March 2017 to 7,256 in March 2022.”
Buttressing this, the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), recently said that Nigeria only retains 30 per cent of the 4,000 doctors produced annually in the country.
According to the president of MDCAN, Dr Victor Makanjuola, “We probably retain just about 30 percent of those retrained on an annual basis, and we are retaining about 30 per cent of about 4,000 produced annually.”
Makanjuola noted that Nigeria was already in crisis and it will go into deeper crisis unless there is a mechanism put in place.
He said “If we retain 30 per cent of 12,000, it’s better than 30 per cent of 4,000. And if we train about 12,000, 30 per cent of that is far better than the current state of about 4,000. And with that we think we can still support the system, not optimally but at least keep the system going.”
Meanwhile, a Bill to halt emigration of medical and dental practitioners until after five years, has passed second reading stage in the House of Representatives.
The Bill sponsored by Ganiyu Abiodun Johnson is titled, “A Bill for an Act to amend the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap M379, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to mandate any Nigerian-trained medical and dental practitioner to practice in Nigeria for a minimum of five years before being granted a full license by the Council in order to make quality health services available to Nigeria; and for related matters (HB.2130).
However, Makanjuola said “It is a globally competitive market for healthcare workers not just for doctors, nurses as well, radiographers and the rest. The world is competing for the few available.
“No one would, based on patriotism alone, leave a situation where they will be paid ten times more what you are currently being paid and provided, with several other positive living conditions and decide to stay in a place where you are paid ten times less, sometimes fifty times less. That’s the challenge that we are having, that’s why we are encouraging the government to do it’s part, while we do our part on increasing the numbers that are produced.”
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