Home Health & Living Over 300,000 doctors in 25 years required to check brain drain, health associations say

Over 300,000 doctors in 25 years required to check brain drain, health associations say

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Nigeria will require 12,000 doctors annually, while it will take at least 25 years to have the target of over 300,000 doctors to tackle the country’s health challenges, according to two major associations in the health sector.

While Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) said that Nigeria will need 12,000 doctors annually to adequately address health problems in the country, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) noted that it will take the country at least 25 years to meet the ideal target of 333,334 doctors to address the health needs of Nigerians.

Nigeria is already faced with the dearth of medical personnel as a result of their exodus to other countries, particularly Europe and the Americas. Doctor-patient ratio is now 10,000:1, which is against the World Health Organisation’s recommended 600:1.

In a statement at the weekend, MDCAN National President, Dr Victor Makanjuola said that the counry needed an estimated 12,000 doctors annually, adding that a survey last March by the association’s Medical Education Committee revealed that over 500 medical and dental consultants had left Nigeria in the past two years.

He said the association would hold a one-day summit in Abuja on Tuesday to address the issue.

The statement reads: “Disturbed by the impact of this ugly trend on our country’s health sector growth and development, the MDCAN has conducted a survey among its chapters in March 2022 and found that over 500 medical and dental consultants had left Nigeria for more developed countries over the preceding two years.

“A further exploration of data by the Association’s Medical Education Committee showed that nine out of every 10 medical and dental consultants with less than five years experience on the job have plans to leave the country.

”Furthermore, the Nigerian Medical Association recently reported that only 24,000 doctors are currently registered to practice in Nigeria, giving a ratio of one doctor to over 8,000 Nigerians, against the World Health Organisation’s recommended ratio of one doctor to every 600 people.

“It is important to note that the average medical and dental consultant is not only a clinician but also doubles as the teacher for medical students and doctors in specialist (residency) training.

”It, therefore, goes without saying that the loss of this category of highly-skilled workforce to other countries will not only have an immediate negative impact on clinical service delivery but will leave a long-term, devastating impact on the training of future doctors in Nigeria.

“Anecdotal projections indicate that the 3,000 fresh medical and dental doctors, on average, produced by our local medical schools in Nigeria and another 1,000 produced by foreign medical schools, fall far short of the number of such healthcare personnel required to meet the country’s yearly new medical manpower supply needs, estimated to fall between 10,000 and 12,000 (about three times the current rate).

”This is according to the National Post-Graduate Medical College. As a concerned stakeholder, we resolved to kick-start this necessary but difficult conversation that seeks to help the country shape the future of medical education in Nigeria in the hope of meeting the human resources needs of our national health system.

“While we continue to urge the government to improve the conditions of service and other ‘push’ factors, we consider this (summit) as an opportunity to rethink the philosophy and principles governing medical education in Nigeria”.

Analysing the situation, NMA National President, Dr Uche Ojinmah said that the required 12,000-doctors-per-year translates to about 25 years for Nigeria to meet the target of 333,334 doctors for a population of 200 million.

He therefore recommended a massive expansion of medical schools to increase their student-carrying capacity.

Ojinmah said that the Federal Government should open more universities of medical sciences, and improve remuneration, and provision of equipment to engender job satisfaction.

“The Nigerian government should also provide a conducive work environment and improved security of life and property to retain doctors in Nigeria and attract those that have left the country back home”, Ojinmah said.

Also, the National President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr Emeka Orji revealed plans by 4,000 of its members to disengage their services and migrate abroad. He said that government should address reasons for the exodus.

Orji expressed worry over what he described as government’s nonchalant attitude to doctors’ welfare and other deserved packages in the country.

”What government should do is to try and find out why and then address it. That is what a serious government does, because the truth is that it is really a very serious problem in the health sector.

”We believe it is an emergency and that if nothing is done urgently to arrest the drift, we would come to a stage where we won’t have doctors in our hospitals”, he said.

The Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr Sa’eid Ahmad, who noted that 2,000 doctors left the country in the last two years, called on government at all levels to declare a state of emergency in the health sector.

He said that it was time Nigeria tackled the mounting problems bedevilling the public health system.

“We cannot address an existential problem through the same ineffective ‘normal’ bureaucratic routines that led us here. There won’t be much left”, he warned.

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