Only 50,000 doctors practise in Nigeria – World Medical Association

THE World Medical Association’s President, Osahon Enabulele, has bemoaned inadequate doctors in Nigeria, which arises from brain drain.

Speaking as a guest speaker at a public lecture organised by the Federated Chapel of the Edo Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Benin City, Edo state capital, on Thursday, September 28, the former president of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) said Nigeria had fewer than 100,000 registered doctors, out of which he said 50,000 practised in Nigeria.

He noted that for Nigeria to meet the World Health Organisation’s standard of doctors to patients ratio, the country must employ not less than 250,000 medical doctors.

“The present situation, by international standards, a doctor should be assigned to less than 600 patients, but in Nigeria’s case, a doctor attends to over 3,000. So Nigeria needs over 250,000 doctors to cope with the current reality.”

“There are less than 100,000 registered doctors in Nigeria. Let’s say it is 98,000 doctors. According to the last update, out of these 98,000, only 50,000 are practising in Nigeria.”

According to him, the remaining doctors have migrated to practise outside the nation due to the poor remuneration, adding that some left the profession.

Enabulele further listed various challenges confronting Nigeria’s health system, including insufficient funding, inadequate infrastructure, unemployment, workplace conditions, compensation, brain drain, economic issues, inflation, and inefficiencies in healthcare.

“Because of these problems, senior doctors (consultants) are moving out of Nigeria in drove because of greater remuneration,” he added.

He explained that achieving a robust healthcare system in Nigeria lies in a strong political commitment from Nigerian leaders to fulfil the Abuja Declaration, which advocates dedicating 15 per cent of the national budget to healthcare.

He therefore advocated for improved political will, empowerment of healthcare workers, enhanced working environments, acknowledgement of the value and professionalism of medical practitioners, and ensuring competitive wages to transform the health sector’s narrative.

“There is a need to establish a Health Service Commission that would better administer the health system and drive medical manpower, training, best human resource, develop plan among others,” he submitted.

The ICIR, in October 2022, reported that hundreds of health workers, including doctors and nurses, left Nigeria for greener pastures and that the country lost nearly 9,000 doctors to the United Kingdom (UK) and other countries in three years.

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.

It also reported that psychiatrists in Nigeria reduced from around 300 in 2021 to nearly 200 in October 2022.

Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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