The Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MDCAN, and Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, weekend painted a grim picture of the health sector in the country.
While MDCAN said Nigeria will need 12,000 doctors annually to adequately address health problems in the country, the NMA noted that it will take the country at least 25 years to meet the ideal target of 333,334 doctors to address the health needs of Nigerians.
Recall that the health sector is currently plagued with brain drain, considering the high number of doctors and nurses that have relocated abroad in search of greener pastures, which has escalated the doctor-patient ratio to 10,000:1, against the recommended ratio of 600 doctors to one patient, as specified by the World Health Organisation, WHO.
‘12,000 doctors needed annually’
However, the National President of MDCAN, Dr. Victor Makanjuola, said the country will need an estimated 12,000 doctors annually.
Makanjuola, who disclosed this in a statement issued weekend, said a survey carried out earlier in March by the association’s Medical Education Committee discovered over 500 medical and dental consultants had left Nigeria for more developed countries over the past two years.
Consequently, he said the association will hold a one-day summit in Abuja on December 6 to address the issue.
The statement reads: “Disturbed by the impact of this ugly trend on our country’s health sector growth and development, the MDCAN has conducted a survey among its chapters in March 2022 and found that over 500 medical and dental consultants had left Nigeria for more developed countries over the preceding two years.
“A further exploration of data by the Association’s Medical Education Committee showed that 9 out of every 10 medical and dental consultants with less than five years experience on the job have plans to leave the country.
‘One doctor to 8,000 Nigerians’
”Furthermore, the Nigerian Medical Association recently reported that only 24,000 doctors are currently registered to practice in Nigeria, giving a ratio of one doctor to over 8,000 Nigerians, against the World Health Organisation’s recommended ratio of one doctor to every 600 people.
“It is important to note that the average medical and dental consultant is not only a clinician but also doubles as the teacher for medical students and doctors in specialist (residency) training.
”It, therefore, goes without saying that the loss of this category of the highly-skilled workforce to other countries will not only have an immediate negative impact on clinical service delivery but will leave a long-term, devastating impact on the training of future doctors in Nigeria.
“Anecdotal projections indicate that the 3,000 fresh medical and dental doctors, on average, produced by our local medical schools in Nigeria and another 1,000 produced by foreign medical schools, fall far short of the number of such healthcare personnel required to meet the country’s yearly new medical manpower supply needs, estimated to fall between 10,000 and 12,000 (about three times the current rate).
”This is according to the National Post-Graduate Medical College. As a concerned stakeholder, we resolved to kick-start this necessary but difficult conversation that seeks to help the country shape the future of medical education in Nigeria in the hope of meeting the human resources needs of our national health system.
“While we continue to urge the government to improve the conditions of service and other ‘push’ factors, we consider this (summit) as an opportunity to rethink the philosophy and principles governing medical education in Nigeria.”
It’ll take Nigeria 25yrs to meet the ideal target of 333, 334 —NMA
Reacting to the development yesterday, the National President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Uche Ojinmah, said at 12,000 doctors per year, it will take Nigeria about 25 years to meet the ideal target of 333,334 doctors that should take care of a population of 200 million.
To salvage the situation, the NMA President recommended a massive expansion of medical schools to increase their student-carrying capacity.
He said the Federal Government should open more Universities of Medical Sciences as well as improve remuneration, and provision of equipment to engender job satisfaction.
“The Nigerian government should also provide a conducive work environment and improved security of life and property to retain doctors in Nigeria and attract those that have left the country back home,” Dr. Ojinmah said.
Govt should address reasons doctors are leaving—NARD
Also reacting to the development yesterday, the National President, of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, Dr. Emeka Orji, who raised alarm over plans by 4,000 of its members to disengage their services and migrate abroad, said the government should address reasons doctors are leaving the country.
Orji expressed worry over what he described as the government’s nonchalant attitude to doctors’ welfare and other deserved packages in the country.
Orji, who admitted that mobility of labour is recognized anywhere in the world, said the government should find out the reasons Nigerian doctors are leaving and address them.
”What government should do is to try and find out why and then address it. That is what a serious government does because the truth is that it is really a very serious problem in the health sector.
”We believe it is an emergency and that if nothing is done urgently to arrest the drift, we would come to a stage where we won’t have doctors in our hospitals,” he said.
Declare state of emergency in the health sector —MEDICAL GUILD
Speaking on the issue, the chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr. Sa’eid Ahmad, who noted that 2,000 doctors left the country in the last two years, called on the government at all levels to declare a state of emergency in the health sector.
Ahmad said it was time Nigeria tackled the mounting problems bedeviling the public health system in the country.
“We cannot address an existential problem through the same ineffective ‘normal’ bureaucratic routines that led us here. There won’t be much left,” he warned.