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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Doctors in Nigeria and Diaspora

At least 40,000 Nigerian medical doctors are reportedly practising in the US. This is a shocking number. We cannot but agree with the President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Osahon Enabulele, who said this situation is absolutely unacceptable.
Dr Enabulele said the country has 71,740 medical and dental practitioners listed on the register of the Medical and Dental Health Council of Nigeria, with about 27,000 currently in Nigeria.
The implication is that the country has a doctor-population ratio of 1: 6,187, given a population base of 167, 000,000. In this circumstances, no effective and efficient health care can be provided to the majority of Nigerians.Dr Enabulele was not exaggerating when he said that Nigeria has turned into a manufacturing plant for the production of medical doctors and dentists for the health care systems of developed countries -, UK, US, Australia and Canada, where the demand for doctors from developing countries is high.
Statistical facts substantiate Dr Enabulele’s claim. It is estimated that over 15,000 Nigerian-trained medical doctors are practising abroad in the countries listed above, as well as South Africa, Botswana and Ghana, among others. At least 40,000 Nigerian medical doctors are reportedly practising in the US.The country is thus akin to the physician who is busy trying to cure others when he has refused to heal himself.
At a recent meeting with officials of the Federal Ministry of Health, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, reiterated the seriousness of the problem and sought collaboration between the ministry and her committee to address it. Citing the examples of China and India, she called for measures to encourage Nigerian medical professionals abroad to come back home to contribute their quota to the country’s health care delivery.
Doctors who have migrated to other climes are not motivated by lack of patriotism or selfish pecuniary considerations.
Brain drain of Nigerian doctors dates back to the 1980th
The massive brain drain of Nigerians abroad started in the 1980s, following the economic crisis caused by the profligacy of parasitic and corrupt ruling elite. Faced with poor remuneration, lack of a satisfactory working environment, and the absence of the necessary equipment, doctors and other professionals, including nurses, left the country to the countries in search for better opportunities.
The loser, however, was the country’s health care system.
In this situation, some states, particularly in the North, have had cause to engage the services of Pakistani doctors.
Paradoxically, while we are employing foreign medical personnel, thousands of highly qualified Nigerian doctors are contributing to the development of the health care system of other countries.
The General Ibrahim Babangida regime in the 1980s set up a committee to address the brain drain challenge. However, nothing came of it.
The problem needs no committee.This country is undoubtedly sufficiently endowed to have well-equipped public health facilities manned by well-remunerated and motivated staff. That is the best way to woo Nigerian medical doctors, nurses and other professionals back to the country.
Equally critical is the need to decisively address the security challenges confronting the country. The daily news of kidnapping, armed robbery, assassinations, wanton murder, communal clashes and religious conflicts emanating from Nigeria can only discourage any professional who has an alternative from returning.
Source: The Nation


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