Not fewer than 5,314 Nigerian doctors are currently working in the United Kingdom, LEADERSHIP Weekend investigation has revealed.
This figure, according to the recent National Health Service (NHS) statistics on staff from overseas, indicates that of the doctors of African descent working in the UK, Nigeria has the highest number which is only followed by Ghana and South Africa whose citizens practising medicine in the European country are 2,342 and 1,641 respectively.
According to the NHS statistics, Liberia which has 40 has the lowest number of doctors working in the UK.
LEADERSHIP Weekend investigation revealed that, Mauritian, 1234; Egypt, 1,026; Kenya, 705; Sierra Leone, 511; Uganda, 480; Sudan, 469; Zambia, 469; Cameroon, 252; Somali, 250; Gambia, 207; Malawi, 205; Libya, 150; Eritrea, 147; Congo, 147; Tanzania, 144; Niger, 124; Ethiopia, 90; Central Africa, 90; Algeria, 79; Morocco, 51; Côte d’Ivoire, 48 Rwanda, 49 and Motswana, 46.
The NHS statistics stated that, “there are now substantially fewer nurses from some nationalities than in 2009. There has been a reduction of over 1,400 Zimbabwean nurses (36 per cent of the total). There have also been large reductions of nurses of Philippine, Indian and Nigerian nationality.
“There are estimated to be 53 per cent fewer South African nurses, 46 per cent fewer Malaysian nurses and 39 per cent fewer Australian nurses than there were in 2009.
“For several European nationalities there have been very large increases since 2009. The number of Portuguese nurses has risen from 210 to 3,501; the number of Italian nurses from 192 to 2,697, and the number of Spanish nurses from 406 to 4,304. However, all three of these nationalities saw a reduction in numbers between December 2016 and June 2017.”
Aligning to the NHS data, statistics from the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan shows that the health crisis in Nigeria is unprecedented as the mass exodus hits alarming proportions in 2017.
From the statistics, Nigeria has 80,000 registered doctors, more than 50,000 are practising abroad while 92 per cent of doctors in the country are considering finding a job abroad and 70 per cent of them are making plans to leave for foreign lands and are taking examinations to that effect.
Two hundred and thirty six doctors wrote primaries for the West Africa College of Physicians in 2017 to gain admission to Nigerian Teaching Hospitals whereas five years ago, over 1000 wrote the same examination. Six hundred and sixty wrote the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test which provides the main route for International Medical Graduates to practise in the United Kingdom over this primaries examination. Over 1000 have registered for the next PLAB.
According to Media chairman, OneVoice Coalition, Pastor Adedeji Adeleye, it takes an old patient two hours and three hours for new patients to see a doctor on the average.
Adeleye said if this issue was not tackled, Nigerians, would very soon go to government hospitals and not see a doctor.
According to him, across the nation the story is the same and the scary part is that no one seems to be bothered.
He, however, called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to tackle the issue, as Nigerians are already feeling the pain of brain drain.
Commenting on the development, the national president, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Prof. Mike Ogirima, described the exodus of doctors abroad as worrisome, saying the ratio of doctors to patients in Nigeria is 1: 4,000.
Ogirima said, “Presently, due to the continued brain drain, the country’s doctor-patient ratio is one doctor to 4,000 patients. This is contrary to the one doctor to 600 patient ratio recommended by the World Health Organization.”
The NMA president pointed out that the power to reverse the trend resides with the government, adding that the things that attract doctors who work abroad are good working environment and consistent salaries.
He said, “Can we duplicate those things here? Can the government provide good working environment? The government should provide adequate remuneration. We are not saying we should pay so much, but pay them for the job they are doing as and when due.”
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