It is beyond doubt that medical doctors play a critical role in maintaining and sustaining the health of any country’s human resources. They undergo a disciplined and regimented life style while in the University which is transferred into their professional practice.
Like security personnel, medical doctors work like detectives asking questions based on symptoms presented and the result of test conducted to come up with proper diagnosis.
Despite the limited conditions under which they work, a doctor is expected to be perfect particularly about making a diagnosis.
Doctors also serve as front line workers whenever there is an outbreak or a pandemic in the country like the current COVID-19 Pandemic that is ravaging the world.
Factors Responsible for the Mass Exodus of Nigerian Medical Doctors Abroad
Unfortunately the Nation’s health sector have become a challenge that medical doctors are moving out of the country at record level.
This experts say is due to the following reasons
- harsh working conditions,
- poor remuneration,
- deteriorating health facilities,
- insecurity and
- harsh economic realities.
These poor working conditions may have led to the current lingering strike by resident doctors in Nigeria, a situation that is making many of the medical doctors to leave the country in search for greener pastures.
Available evidence show that over four thousand medical doctors have moved to the United Kingdom in the last six years.
According to the figure released in 2018 by the British Government which indicate that no fewer than 5405 Nigerian trained Doctors and Nurses are currently working with British National Health Service in the United Kingdom.
This means that Medics of Nigerian extraction constitute almost four percent of every one thousand foreign staff members, out of the over two thousand foreign Nationalities that are working alongside British Doctors and Nurses.
Nigeria and the WHO Recommended Doctor to Patient Ratio
It is still evident that Nigeria does not have enough medical doctors to serve the population. Available statistics show that the country has a doctor patient ratio of 1 Doctor to 6,000 Patients and in some areas this could even be worse.
As in some areas the ratio is 1 Doctor to 10,000 patients against the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of one doctor to six hundred patients.
This has become obvious that for every one thousand people or patients there is a shortage of ten doctors. It is therefore evident that there is a deficit of doctors in Nigeria to meet the medical challenge of a population of over 200 million people. It is also an indication that a doctor in Nigeria is seeing ten times the number of patients he is supposed to see against other developed countries that is 2.8 doctors to 1000 patients.
Disadvantages of Mass Movement of Nigerian Medical Doctors Abroad
The disadvantages of the increasing movement of Nigerian medical doctors to other countries are not farfetched. It is imperative to know that the mass exodus of medical doctors at these challenging times is at the expense of the lives of the less privileged Nigerians. The more doctors continue to leave Nigeria the higher Maternal and Child Deaths as well as low life span and expectancy of citizens.
Based on the Global challenges that have bedeviled the health sector as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, qualified medical practitioners are needed in every parts of the world.
Measures to Check the Mass Movement of Nigerian Medical Doctors Abroad
The fact remains that when health care professionals lack the opportunities for professional development and the enabling environment to function they may be compelled to seek for greener pastures abroad.
Until proper attention is given to the development of health care in Nigeria the exodus of medical doctors may never end.
Governments at all levels must take health care seriously and make a major priority in view of its importance to the life of her citizens. Health care requires remarkable investment not just increased funding.
Above all there should be political commitment to improve the working conditions and environment of medical health workers to reduce the mass exodus of Nigerian medical doctors.