Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Honourable Minister for Health (2nd Right), Ex-NCDC Director-General, and Other Medical Professionals During the Minister's Visit to the Agency's Laboratory File Photo

NMA to Minister: Nigeria hasn’t enough medical doctors for over 200m people

*The leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association challenge the Federal Government to address the brain drain problem, as the country has a ratio of 1 doctor to 450,000/500,000 patients for over 200 million people, contrary to World Health Organisation’s ratio of 1 doctor to 600 patients

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Against the backdrop of the latter’s earlier statement on the capacity in the health sector, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has replied to an earlier statement credited to Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Honourable Minister for Health, that there are enough medical doctors in the country.

The NMA Thursday, August 25, 2022, disagreed with Dr. Ehanire’s pronouncement, and said, “based on the facts available to them, the country does not have enough medical doctors.”

In an interview with Vanguard, Dr. Uche Ojinmah, President of NMA, who believed that the Minister may have been misquoted said a country that parades a ratio of 1 doctor to 450,000/500,000 patients contrary to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ratio of 1 doctor to 600 patients has no enough doctors to attend to a population of over 200 million people.

Dr. Ojinmah stated: “I don’t think he (Minister) is serious about that, but the fundamental thing here is that don’t want enough doctors.

“He must have been misquoted because from 1960 to 2020, we have produced over 80,000 doctors and 5,000 dentists registered with the Medical and Dental Council.”

The NMA President also noted: “When you remove those that have died, those that have left the profession, and those that have joined politics as well as those that have stopped practising, it will come down to about 40 or 50,000 doctors.

“Today, out of this number left, almost 20,000 have left the country, leaving us with about 20,000 to 25,000 doctors to cater for over 200 million Nigerians.  This will give us a ratio of about 1 doctor to 450,000 or 500,000 patients.”

According to him, the WHO ratio is 1 to 600, and this is the yawning gap and the Minister feels that 2,000 to 3,000 doctors produced in a year can cover the gap.”

Even if Nigeria produces 2,000 to 3,000 medical doctors annually, they cannot replace consultants that have up to 15 to 20 years of experience the country loses to other countries due to poor remuneration, environment and insecurity, said he.

Ojinmah further stated: “The Minister is also looking at it from the perspective of numbers. “He is not looking at the level of experience of those that are leaving the country.

“Even if we agreed that the 2,000 to 3,000 doctors are enough,  these are doctors that will go for house jobs,  and then go for youth service   and  you are using it to equate consultants, medical officers  long time medical officers, , etc., that are leaving the country.”

Government should address the brain drain problem: Dr. Ojinmah

Alleging that the government does not want to acknowledge there is a problem, Ojinmah accused the government of running away from the solution to the problem which is the increase in wages, provision of appropriate equipment, and making the hospital environment conducive to fighting insecurity nationwide.

“We do not agree with the Minister based on the facts available to us, go and check the number of doctors who have registered with the UK Medical Council in the past two weeks.

“They are over 260 doctors and that is just the only UK.

“I am not talking about America and Canada. Canada is coming down and taking them and running away.

“I want to believe that the Minister of health was misquoted,” said the NMA President.

He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to address the brain drain problem in the health sector by resolving the factors pushing doctors out of the country to foreign lands.

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