NIGERIA’S ongoing medical brain drain has accelerated in an unprecedented manner over the last few months as up to 353 doctors have registered to work in the United Kingdom within the last 100 days.
Over 200 Nigerian doctors registered with the British General Medical Council (GMC) during the months of April and May this year making Nigeria the country with the third highest number of foreign doctors working in the UK after India and Pakistan. Then, last month, Saudi Arabia stepped up an aggressive recruitment of Nigerian doctors using a government-licensed recruiting agency based in Abuja known as Meed Consultants.
In what is now turning into a deluge, doctors are leaving Nigeria in droves as poor working conditions, especially in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic has left them frustrated. Britain’s GMC licensed at least 353 Nigerian-trained doctors between June 10 and September 20, 2021.
These statistics also showed that between July 24, 2020 and September 21, 2021, about 862 Nigeria trained doctors were licensed in the UK. Altogether, 8,737 doctors who obtained their degrees in Nigeria currently practise in the UK.
Dr Julian Ojebo, the vice president of the National Association of Resident Doctors, said the rate of migration might double in the coming weeks since doctors were not given the right remuneration. He added that the numbers of doctors migrating to Saudi Arabia might even be more than those moving to the UK.
According to Dr Ojebo, it was unfortunate that the government had failed to address the plight of doctors and meet their conditions for calling off the strike which began on August 1, 2021. A 2018 NOI poll showed that 88% of Nigerian doctors were considering work opportunities abroad but experts say the current figure may be higher due to the rising insecurity and economic crunch.
Dr Ojebo said: “If 353 Nigerian doctors have been licensed in the last 100 days, I am sure the figure will double within the next one month. The strike has opened the eyes to the doctors that Nigeria does not care about them.
“I am sure the statistics for those migrating to Saudi Arabia would be higher as I have always said it that remuneration is usually the trigger for migration. It is now worse today due to insecurity and the lack of political will by government appointees to address the issues affecting the health sector.
“I can tell you categorically that some of the issues we are fighting for are matters that should have been addressed since 2014 and we are still protesting in 2021. Like we have always said, whatever you earn in Nigeria, you stand the opportunity of earning three times that amount with better working conditions.”