Nigeria’s leading survey and polling firm, NOIPolls Ltd says that Nigerian doctors are still emigrating in droves to the West, especially the United Kingdom as they employ at least 12 new doctors a week.The firm said in its report released on Tuesday in Abuja that “this continuous migration has further worsened the physician-patient ratio in Nigeria from 1:4,000 to 1:5,000, contrary to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended 1:600”.
It noted that Nigeria has about 72,000 medical doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, with only approximately 35,000 practicing in the country.
NOIPolls said that it was raising the alarm on this continued menace as a low doctor to patient ratio worsens medical outcomes, leading to unnecessary fatalities, avoidable deaths, longer wait times, more frequent medical errors and a general deterioration in the health of Nigeria’s population.
It recalled that the survey conducted by NOIPolls in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch in May 2017, revealed that about 8 out of every 10 (88 percent) medical doctors in Nigeria were currently seeking work opportunities abroad, and this finding cut across junior, mid and senior level doctors in both public and private medical institutions such as house officers, corps members, medical and senior medical officer, residents, registrars, consultants and medical directors.
“Interestingly, the United Kingdom and the United States are the top destinations where Nigerian medical doctors sought work opportunities.
“Consequently, at the time of the survey, many Nigerian doctors were currently registered to write foreign medical exams such as PLAB for the UK (30 percent), USMLE for the United States (30 percent), MCCE for Canada (15 percent), AMC for Australia (15 percent) and DHA for Dubai (10 percent) amongst others,” it said.
Further findings, according to the NOIPolls, revealed that the reasons for the continuous brain drain in the health sector include challenges such as high taxes and deduction from salary (98 percent), low work satisfaction (92 percent), poor salaries and emoluments (91 percent) and the huge knowledge gap that exists in the medical practice abroad (47 percent) amongst others.
It expressed the hope that these findings would help stimulate conversations amongst stakeholders in the Nigerian health sector and trigger much needed reforms to redesign of a health system that is responsive to the healthcare needs of the nation.
“This survey also seeks to sound an alarm of a looming brain drain in the country’s health sector if nothing is done urgently to curb this rising trend of emigration of healthcare practitioners – physicians, nurses, pharmacist, and laboratory scientists amongst others,” it added.