Dr Solomon Avidime, a don at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, says a minimum of 10,065 doctors must be recruited annually for Nigeria to meet up with the recommended one doctor to 600 patients.
Avidime, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, also said that the country has a deficit of 260,000 doctors, stressing that only about 40,000 doctors currently practice in Nigeria.
This was contained in a keynote address entitled “Brain Drain and the Healthcare System in Nigeria: Challenges and Way Forward”.
The expert spoke at the 2019 Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Kaduna State.
He said that Nigeria, with an estimated 200 million, the current doctor to a population ration was one doctor to 5,000 as against one to 600 recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Avidime, a former Chairman, NMA Kaduna State, added that the scarcity of human resources in the health sector was disturbing, adding that even the available hands are poorly distributed and skewed in favour of urban centres.
He said primary healthcare centres were the worst hit, stressing that the countries evidently far from achieving a reasonable ratio of healthcare provider per 1000 population.
According to him, the ratio of a doctor to population is worsening following the migration of healthcare workers abroad for the better working environment in terms of infrastructure and welfare.
He said: “Available report shows that close to 90 per cent of all migrating physicians are moving to Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdome (UK) and the USA, and in recent time, Saudi Arabia, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire.
“In 2014, a net weekly migration rate of two physicians per week was recorded, increasing to net weekly migration of 17 physicians per week in 2018, representing a whopping 600 per cent.
“As of 2018, about 5,861 Nigerian physicians are in the United Kingdom alone and with the deficit of over 260,000 physicians, many more doctors are still migrating. This should be a matter of national concern,” said the don.
He attributed the high wave of migration of Nigerian doctors to foreign countries, which he described as ‘brain drain’, to poor working condition, employment discrimination and absence of research facilities, among others.
He also said that the level of health infrastructural development in the country was slow, with low budgetary allocation, corruption, misappropriation and diversion.
He said that health workers migration impact negatively on the health systems of source countries and huge economic loss after investing huge resources in training health professionals.
He said that while infrastructures, physical capital and pharmaceuticals are important, workforce for health remains one of the key health system inputs that undoubtedly ensure qualitative service delivery and improve health outcomes.
He said:“The Nigeria government and health workers unions must play a critical role in increasing the number of trained doctors to combat the shortages through increasing access to training and retraining.
“The government must also stop the brain drain because of the negative effect it has on the economy; loss of investment in manpower, loss of revenue and shortage of skilled workforce,” he added.