Nigerian President, President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged by a team of medical professionals to declare a state of emergency following fears of the country facing a deficit of 50,120 doctors and 137,859 nurses by the year 2030.
The team made this call on the federal government due to the threat this expected shortage poses to the health sector of the country. Nigeria is one of the world’s most populated countries with over 200 million people. The country currently has a very poor patient-Doctor/Nurse ratio due to Brain Drain which is robbing Nigeria of well-trained professionals.
Speaking at the program held in Abuja, one Runcie Chidebe who is a key member of the team stated that, “for a population of 201 million, Nigeria has less than 90 clinical oncologists who provide treatment to over 100,000 patients across the cancer centers. In our calculation, it means that there is only one cancer doctor to over 1,100 patients in Nigeria. The stark reality of this report stares us in the face and has become a legitimate cause for concern.”
Chidede argued that “attracting and retaining healthcare workers are of greater concern. The mass migration of healthcare workers to foreign countries in recent years has only worsened the inequitable distribution of healthcare workers.”
Some of the reasons quoted for this mass exodus of trained doctors from the country are, better facilities and work environment, higher salaries, career progression and improved quality of life. Successive Nigerian governments have been criticized strongly for the low budget allocation to the sector, leading to the underfunding of health activities and remuneration of doctors. According to reports, a doctor in Nigeria earns about N200, 000 ($560) monthly, relative to the high salaries and better opportunities offered by these foreign countries.
Nations such as the British, America, Emirati, Saudi Arabia and many others are taking advantage of the existing situation in the country by setting up agencies that sells their offers, recruit most of the best doctors and migrate them out of the country. About 4000 Nigerian doctors are reported to be practicing in the USA, with 5000 currently registered in the UK according to the BBC. The remaining have spread across Canada, Australia, among others.
According to the Nigerian polling agency NOI polls and the Nigerian Health Watch, the trend of Doctors emigrating to other countries is at an all-time high. Statistically, about 2000 doctors were estimated to have left Nigeria in recent times, adding to the previous records. This has widened the Doctor-Patient ratio beyond the globally set target. Data from the World Health organization indicated that Nigeria’s physician to patient ratio is 4 doctors per 10,000 patients, as against, 26 and 28 doctors per 10,000 people in the USA and Canada respectively. This is way beyond the World Health Organization’s recommendation of one doctor per 600 people.
According to the current report from the medical stakeholders who are urging the government to press the red alert on the incident, by the estimated year of 2030, Nigeria will need 149,852 doctors and 471,353 nurses but they will not be able to meet such demand due mainly to the mass exodus of health professionals from the country. Do you think the Nigerian government will heed to this advice at this critical moment?