Greener pastures: Doctors escaping Nigerian territory; trouble for sick patients”


By Moses Adeniyi


Reports from Nigerian trained doctors who have left the shores of the Country for greener pastures have been revealing more evidences that they are feeding well on green pastures oversees.

Testimonies from findings have it to show that once Nigerian trained doctors leave the four walls of the Country, they are appreciated abroad and becomes “star doctors” in foreign lands where the condition of service appears soothing to their career.

The pervasive testimonies have been arousing more of Nigerian practicing doctors and medical students to think of nothing but how to escape the Countries in pursuit of a career they believed thrives with fortune on foreign lands. This trend has been a major bane occasioning the popular brain-drain phenomenon.

It however becomes questionable to note if Nigeran government is in any way perturbed by the height to which this is rising. The disposition displayed so far by the Nigerian government (stakeholders have observed) tends not to depict much seriousness commensurate to the magnitude of the problem.

By virtue of the height to which this phenomenon has reached, it is not a gainsaying to report that it is enough for  governments at different levels to declare a state of emergency on the health sector with regards to the spate at which doctors are escaping the Country to foreign lands where they can pursue their careers with brighter prospects of great achievements.

The word “escape” here might seem appropriate with considerations given to the psyche of inappropriateness majority of the doctors and about-to-be medical practitioners view practising medical profession in Nigeria.

Factors spurring brain-drain

The rate of the defects insinuate that  there is hardly anybody who will be too loyal to suffering on the ground of serving a “father’s land”. It is therefore sine-qua-non for the Federal Government and the federatimg Units to look into the factors that have always been stimulating the desire of Nigerian Medical practitioners to think of nothing but how to escape the Country.

The roots of this problem are not far fetched as observed and hinted by stakeholders in the health sector. They find expression in matters that keep on echoing in the ears of Nigerians often; they can be seen in the grievances lodged from time to time by health practitioners, and medical bodies (NMA, NARDN) in the Country.

Facts in Stakeholders’ worries

Stakeholders concern will practically put things in a better light of perception. The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Francis Faduyile, expressing concern on the brain-drain crisis in the Nigerian Medical sector, had on Tuesday hinted that 7 in every 10 Nigerian trained doctors are technically out of the Country.

He further revealed that about 80 percent of new Nigerian medical graduates are virtually looking up to escaping the Country.

His words: “7 in 10 Nigerian trained doctors are either out of the country or on their way out. Up to 80 per cent of newly graduated doctors are looking outside after graduation.

“Consequently, this worsens the Doctor-patient (doctor to patient) ratio. The trend is also applicable to the pharmacists, nurses and other health care providers who are leaving this country in droves.”

Causal effects

Observations have revealed that the increasing exodus of medical doctors from the shores of the Country have systematically transferred the workload on those who are still in government services, with no appreciable arrangements for replacement.

Statistics have shown that the Doctor-patient ratio in urban centres (such as Lagos) in the Country is 1:5000 as against the popularly standard of 1:100. It has further been observed that a medical doctor in Nigerian urban centres attend to about  70-100 patients every eight hours, to the detriment of both the patients and the doctors.

It has therefore been observed by stakeholders that with the deficient Doctor-patient ratio, it is no doubt that the human capital strength of the Country is at grave risk and the economy at the edge of catastrophe. This is perceived in the light that in an atmosphere where many sick people are increasingly left unattended to as and at when due, the health condition of many unprivileged persons will continue to degenerate to the havoc of the Country at large.

Analytically, this further reflects the light that when many do not have timely access to diagnosis of symptoms of ailments as quickly as possible for timely and responsive treatment, they may have no other choice than to turn to traditional channels and self medication which on the long run will amount to jumping from the frying pan into the burning fire.

On similar grounds, the Rivers State NMA President, Dr Obelebra Adebiyi,earlier this year, had decried the effects of the worsening state of health system in the Country, stressing poor remuneration of health workers and deterioration of facilities as matters of concern.

Linking the consequences of the problem on the Doctor-patient deficit which has been on increase due to brain-drain, she stressed that the trend, if left unchecked, would make patients to resort to patronising quacks, as doctors would no longer be enough in Nigerian hospitals.

Calls have therefore been made on the government at various level to as a matter of concern address the gap pragmatically as an emergency for sustenance of the wealth of the nation.

Government lamentations; proposed way-out

Lamenting the human resource crisis in the health sector at the second National Health Summit organised by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), President Buhari on Tuesday said “Nigeria’s Health Human Resources needs are real.

“We have a situation where human resource experts, trained and skilled at great cost to the nation, (roughly estimated by the Nigeria Postgraduate Medical College at N70million per Fellow), are lost to our health system by migration to already Developed countries.

“Today, we are experiencing the migration of medical doctors to pastures some may consider being greener. This is worrisome to stakeholders in the health sector and we welcome practical suggestions for finding solutions to this problem.

“The Federal government would like to open up a conversation with doctors and nurses, to study ways of retaining our skilled workforce, trained at great expense to the State, as determined by the Postgraduate Medical College.

“We still have much need to strengthen our highly specialized Human Resource for Health for expanded healthcare delivery.

“The Federal Ministry of Health will work with the State and Local Government to encourage the creation of a conducive environment for healthcare professionals to practice and thrive.”

Stakeholders to Government

In relation to the above position of the President, stakeholders have mostly express concern that such proposals should extend beyond mere intention to  practical realities.

With the magnitude of the problem, stakeholders have noted that the phenomenon has gone beyond having mere suggestions and conversations (which has always been the case) to making realities happen by putting things in the right box.

Reports have revealed that dumping Nigeria for foreign lands particularly to Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia Kuwait among others, owe largely to poor conditions of the Nigerian health system, bad remuneration, outdated and deteriorating medical facilities.

Recommendations to address the problem has quite been simple with  observations from different quarters. The expression reads manifestly in ‘if only those in the elm of governmental affairs will take heed’.

The point is engraved in determining the beauty (benefits, standards, conditions) of medical standards in foreign countries serving as the source of attraction which has been drawing Nigerian practitioners and medical students to escape. The cry of medical practitioners has largely anchored on critical considerations and the political will (readiness) to domesticate thesame standards found in advanced Countries in Nigeria. All debates have centred largely on this.


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