A new survey by the Nigerian Polling organisation (NOIPolls) and Nigeria Health Watch says that the country will need 10,605 new doctors annually to avert health challenges and meet current population growth rate of 3.5% yearly.
In a bid to measure the scope of the trend in emigration of the Nigerian healthcare workforce, particularly medical doctors that has been a lingering problem in the country, the organisations carried out the survey.
“Nigeria has about 72,000 medical doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, with only approximately 35,000 practicing in Nigeria,” said Bell Ihua the Chief executive officer of NOIPolls limited, a Nigerian public opinion polling company.
Ihua further said, “The findings are critical to the ability of the health system to retain adequate skilled personnel to cope with Nigeria’s growing population.”
The survey conducted on medical doctors is to assess the prevalence with which medical doctors pursue work opportunities abroad and probable reasons why.
It found that 8 out of every 10 medical doctors in Nigeria are currently seeking work opportunities abroad, and this includes junior, mid and senior level doctors in both public and private medical institutions.
Bell added that the survey was targeted at Nigerian medical doctors, and it involved a mixed methodology approach employing quantitative and qualitative methods.
“Current population is about 182 million at a 3.5% growth rate from the 2006 census.
“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,” said Ihua
Ifeanyi Nsofor, CEO of EpiAfric and health communication advisor, Nigeria Health Watch said the survey will translate into better training, better pay, better working conditions of health workers in Nigeria
“One thing that came to mind for me during the survey that being a doctor no longer has no dignity in it”.
“87% of doctors interviewed believed that government was unconcerned about their deplorable conditions”.
“It’s time for Nigerians to be scandalized about the state of the health sector”, said Nsofor
He added that the National Assembly should look at bills that put doctors in an uncomfortable position.
“Our first recommendation is to provide universal health coverage to improve the funding of the health sector”.
“Health should be on the agenda for the next Nigerian presidential elections and also there is need for the right people to head the health sector, so Nigerians can access proper medical care”
According to the findings revealed that the reasons for the looming brain drain in the health sector include challenges such as 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) amongst others.
According to C.J Achonwa chairman Nigeria medical association (NMA); this survey also seeks to sound an alarm of a looming brain drain in the country’s health sector.
“If nothing is done urgently to curb this rising trend of emigration of healthcare practitioners – physicians, nurses, pharmacist, and laboratory scientists amongst others.
“The country’s health sector needs reforms to redesign of a health system that is responsive to the healthcare needs of the nation”. Said Achonwa .