Nigeria has a ratio of one doctor to 5,000 patients as against one to 600, which the World Health Organisation recommends.
According the Nigerian Medical Association, who announced these figures during its annual lecture on Monday, there is a deficit of 315,426 medical doctors to cater to the health needs of 215,266,984 people.
The latest United Nations population data peg Nigeria’s population at 215,063,351 as against 43,013 doctors.
NMA President, Prof Innocent Ujah, who spoke on the theme “Brain Drain and Medical Tourism: The Twin Evil in the Health System in Nigeria,” attributed the situation to a massive brain drain.
He said that between 2016 to 2018, not less than 9,000 doctors left Nigeria for better work environments, safety and security in three countries – the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America.
Ujah said relevant stakeholders in the health sector, government and private sector must come up with lasting solutions to the problem.
He said. ‘We all should know that human resources for health, which represents one of the six pillars of a strong and efficient health system, is very critical to the improvement of health quality for our health system. Unfortunately, Africa and our country, Nigeria are faced with a disturbing shortage of health workforce’.
The World Health Organisation, Ujah further said, reported that sub-Saharan Africa has about three per cent of the world’s health workers, while the sub-region accounts for 24 per cent of the global burden of disease.
‘Nigeria has a doctor-to-population ratio of about 1:4,000 – 5,000, which falls far short of the WHO recommended doctor-to-population ratio of 1:600. Nigeria is still grappling with disturbingly poor health indices’, the NMA President lamented.
With the number of Nigerian doctors leaving in droves for the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America particularly, the loss has left the country ‘with only 4.7 per cent of its specialists to service the healthcare needs of the most populous black nation in the world. This does not paint the country in a good light at all’. Ujah said.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire however said that the Federal Government has already put in place a health reform committee to reverse and combat brain drain.
‘The health system cannot be what it should be without fixing the political system. We are not here trying to point accusing fingers. What we are here to do is to find pragmatic solutions that will get us to where we want to go’, he said.
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