BRAIN DRAIN: The Mass Exodus of Nigerian Doctors
Medic-ALL (02:08:2014) 2:00AM
According to the President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Osahon Enabulele, there are 71,740 medical and dental practitioners listed on the register of the Medical and Dental Health Council of Nigeria, with about 27,000 currently in Nigeria. It is believed that at least 40,000 Nigerian medical doctors practising in the United States! With a recent report stating that 77% of Black Doctors in the U.S are Nigerians!
The implication is that the country has a doctor-population ratio of 1: 6,187, given a population base of 167, 000,000.
How effectively and efficiently can the healthcare sector cope with such numbers?
The truth of the matter is that things are not getting any better as Nigerian medical doctors at every level of practice, from House-officers to Consultants!, including some Professors are leaving the shores of this country in search of their "Promised land".
The situation is becoming even more alarming as the doctors, asides from pursuing greener pastures in the usual suspect places such as U.S, U.K ,Canada and Australia have begun leaving for and as I write are immigrating into countries like Saudi Arabia, U.A.E, Trinidad and Tobago, Finland, South Africa and even Gambia to mention but a few!
The massive exit of Nigerians abroad actually started in the 1980s, following the economic crisis caused by the profligacy of a corrupt ruling elite. Faced with poor remuneration, lack of a satisfactory working environment, and the absence of the necessary equipment, doctors and other professionals, including nurses, left the country to the countries in search for better opportunities.
The loser, however, was the country’s health care system.
While many consider this exodus of Nigerian Doctors abroad a "brain drain", a good majority of colleagues now believe that the "Real Brain Drain" is practising in a country where you are relatively not well appreciated and compensated as compared with counterparts abroad coupled with the frustrating limitations posed by certain factors in the healthcare sector of the country.
How then can we prevent the loss of medical professionals to the "more" developed countries?
I believe Nigeria is without doubt sufficiently endowed to have well-equipped public health facilities manned by well-remunerated and motivated staff as well as research facilities capable of hosting ground-breaking studies towards better healthcare. Equally important is the need to ensure that the policies in place in the health sector are sane and reasonable enough to keep the doctor focused and happy to work at every given time.
With this, Not only would we succeed in keeping a good number of the 27,000 - x (! some doctors are leaving right now , remember?) on ground , but we will on the long run find that Nigerian medical doctors, and even nurses and other medical professionals would be wooed back to the country in no time.