Brain drain: Nigeria health sector in intensive care

African healthcarefrom EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – NIGERIA is sitting on a ticking health time bomb amid doctors leaving in droves mostly to the United Kingdom (UK) United States (US).

The UK is employing at least 12 new Nigerian doctors per week while 88 percent of these professionals currently in the West African country are planning to migrate.

This is according to findings by a local polling firm.

NOIPolls, the polling organisation, lamented the continuous migration had 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.

The low doctor-to-patient ratio is leading to unnecessary fatalities, avoidable deaths, longer wait times, more frequent medical errors and a general deterioration in the health of Nigeria’s population.

The National Population Commission (NPC) has projected the current population to be about 182 million at a 3,5 percent growth rate from the 2006 census.

According to NOIPolls, this means Nigeria needs 303 000 medical doctors currently, and at least 10 605 new doctors annually to cover the gaping physician-patient ratio.

The country has about 72 000 medical doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, with only approximately 35,000 practicing in Nigeria.

Reasons for the continuous brain drain have been cited as high taxes and deduction from salary (98 percent), low work satisfaction (92 percent), poor salaries and emoluments (91 percent) and the knowledge gap existing in the medical practice abroad (47 percent).

Other professionals have mainly migrated to Australia, Canada and United Arab Emirates.
– CAJ News

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