Brain drain: Number of psychiatrists in Nigeria drops from 300 in 2021 to 200

PSYCHIATRISTS in Nigeria have reduced from around 300 in 2021 to nearly 200 in October this year.

Psychiatrists at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Kware, Sokoto State, disclosed this to The ICIR on Friday.

Led by the hospital’s medical director, Shehu Sale, a professor, the group said there was only one psychiatrist to 500,000 people in the country.

Explaining the extent of the shortage of psychiatrists in the country, Sale said there were only four consultant psychiatrists in his hospital, while 17 others support the facility from outside the hospital.

“The reduction in the number of psychiatrists in the country started in 2021, shortly after COVID-19 subsided and the lockdown eased. The pandemic created a demand for medical manpower worldwide, resulting in mass emigration to the UK, Canada, the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Australia, etc.

“The worsening insecurity in the country and devaluation of the naira also make the emigration of doctors more lucrative. The emigration peaked in 2022,” Sale said.

The development highlights the brain drain in the country’s health sector resulting from the mass emigration of medical professionals.

The ICIR reports that hundreds of health workers, including doctors and nurses, have left Nigeria for greener pastures in the past years because of poor welfare, insecurity, and a worsening economy.

In 2021, The ICIR reported how the country lost nearly 9,000 doctors to the UK and others in three years.

Before COVID-19, the newspaper reported how the UK employed at least 12 Nigerian doctors weekly.

Multiple reports by The ICIR, including those on the Federal Medical Centres, Jalingo,  Makurdi, and the Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital, Yola, Adamawa State, revealed the rapidly depleting number of doctors in Nigerian hospitals.

In August 2021, the newspaper published a report on how hundreds of doctors thronged a popular hotel in Abuja to participate in an interview for jobs in Saudi Arabia.

However, it has not been very rosy for the doctors abroad. On October 11, this newspaper reported how the BBC exposed the agonies of Nigerian doctors in the UK.

One in four Nigerians have mental disorder –  Psychiatrists

On Friday, the group of psychiatrists at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Kware, Sokoto State, told The ICIR reporter that one in four Nigerians has a mental disorder.

Head of the Department of Clinical Services in the hospital, Adebayo Adebisi, a psychiatric doctor, said: “The generally known estimate is one in four Nigerians has some form of mental health problem. If you say we are 200 million, that goes to about 50 million Nigerians with mental health issues.”

Psychiatrists are trained doctors who attend to people with mental health disorders.

According to Adebisi, mental health disorders manifest in various forms, namely psychological, behavioural and addictive.



    He said the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Sokoto, managed about 13,000 people with mental problems yearly.

    He, however, described as a myth the belief that people could be “turned mad” by charms, incantations, or voodoos.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) says one in every eight people lives with a mental disorder.

    While noting that mental disorders involve significant disturbances in thinking, emotional regulation, or behaviour, the agency lists causes of mental disorders as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders, and Neuro-developmental disorders.

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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    1. This is very alarming. The brain drain is a serious issue that has a very negative impact on the lives of all Nigerians, particularly the less privileged ones. I appealed to the federal government of Nigeria to continue to support the good work the incumbent medical director of Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Kware, Professor Shehu Sale, is doing in improving the welfare of healthcare professionals and promoting the standard of psychiatric care in the facility, to curb this brain drain issue.


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