New survey conducted by NOIPolls in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch has revealed that about 8 out of every 10 (88 percent) medical doctors in Nigeria were currently seeking work opportunities abroad.
This finding which cut across junior, mid and senior level doctors in both public and private medical institutions such as house officers, corps members, medical and senior medical officer, residents, registrars, consultants and medical directors, revealed that Nigerian doctors are still emigrating in droves to the West especially the United Kingdom as they employ at least 12 new doctors a week.
According to the report, the United Kingdom and the United States are the top destinations where Nigerian medical doctors sought work opportunities and at the time of the survey, many Nigerian doctors were currently registered to write foreign medical exams such as PLAB for the UK (30 percent), USMLE for the United States (30 percent), MCCE for Canada (15 percent), AMC for Australia (15 percent) and DHA for Dubai (10 percent) amongst others.
As for the reasons for the continuous brain drain in the health sector, the survey revealed high taxes and deduction from salary (98 percent), low work satisfaction (92 percent), poor salaries and emoluments (91 percent) and the huge knowledge gap that exists in the medical practice abroad (47 percent) as major reasons.
The implication of the continuous migration, according to the report is that it will 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.
“Nigeria’s National Population Commission (NPC) has projected current population to be about 182 million at a 3.5 per cent growth rate from the 2006 census and Nigeria has about 72,000 medical doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, with only approximately 35,000 practicing in Nigeria.
“This means we need about 303,333 medical doctors now, and at least 10,605 new doctors annually to join the workforce. Only at this level can we expect good quality patient care that is not compromised by errors occasioned by fatigued and overworked medical doctors,” it added.
To avert the trend, NOIPolls however resound the alarm on this continued menace as a low doctor to patient ratio worsens medical outcomes leading to unnecessary fatalities, avoidable deaths, longer wait times, more frequent medical errors and a general deterioration in the health of Nigeria’s population.