Nigeria’s healthcare sector has over the years faced many frightening issues, including deterioration in healthcare deliveries, delay in payments, strike actions and many more. But one rising issue in Nigeria’s health sector is the migration of health workers abroad. Statistics say that in the last two years, Nigeria has lost over 9000 doctors to relocation.
Nigeria’s Low Doctor-Population Ratio
A publication by the “Women and Men report in 2021” stated that Nigeria had 39,912 doctors in 2017. And this increased to 44,021 doctors in 2018. However, the number of doctors in the country shrank to 24,460 in 2019.
What’s worse is that in March 2022, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib stated that in Nigeria only four doctors attended to 10,000 Nigerians. This figure falls short of the United Nations’ recommendation, which stands at 1 doctor to 600 persons.
Although Nigeria has a higher doctor-population rate when compared to Angola, Chad, Niger, Benin and many others, it lags when compared to Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Republic of Korea, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, China, etc.
The low doctor-population rate points to the fact that Nigeria is losing its medical practitioners to Europe, America, etc.
Not only does the migration of these doctors and other medical practitioners threaten healthcare deliveries in the country, Nigeria could potentially lose over N500 billion to medical tourism as a result of the unavailability of skilled caregivers in the country.
Why this is happening
The President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Uche Rowland, categorized the major reasons for the migration by medical doctors into three. They include “poor remuneration, lack of job satisfaction and the security threat.”
- The newly elected president complained that the federal government does not pay doctors their worth in the country. He further stated that the highest paid doctors in Nigeria do not earn as much as the lowest paid National Assembly members.
- In terms of job satisfaction, the president said doctors were suffering brain drain, meaning medical practitioners were working double of their assigned duties for the same salary.
- He further explained that the worsening security situation of the country is another reason many doctors were relocating: as the perpetrators of kidnapping perceive doctors as “rich men.”
What they are saying
The Minister of State for Health, Joseph Ekumankama, while speaking on Monday, identified the migration of doctors and nurses as the “greatest challenge facing the sector”. He further pleaded with the medical practitioners to remain in Nigeria.