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.
In the UK, the GMC, licenses and maintains the official register of medical practitioners and recent statistics show that at least three Nigerian doctors were licensed per day in April and May 2021. This is despite a new UK government policy introduced in February to discourage the aggressive recruitment of doctors from 47 developing countries facing shortage at home, including Nigeria.
Between July and December 2020, the average number of Nigerian-trained doctors in the UK stood at about 1.3 per day but by May 2021, this figure had risen to 3.3 per day. Between June 7 and June 8, 2020, a space of 24 hours, about seven Nigerian trained doctors were licensed by the UK.
While all this is going on, Nigeria suffers from a chronic shortage of doctors. According to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, the total number of registered doctors in Nigeria stands at 74,543, wholly inadequate for the country’s population of about 200m.
This puts the doctor-patient ratio in the country at one to 2,683 people, far below the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of one doctor to 600 persons. An NOI poll in 2018 showed that 88% of Nigerian doctors are considering work opportunities abroad but experts say the figure may be higher due to the rising insecurity and the current economic crunch.
Other popular destinations for Nigeria-trained doctors include the US, Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Australia. Apparently, the number of Nigeria-trained doctors that migrated from Nigeria to other countries in the last three years would be about 6,000 but some had yet to complete their exams and thus have not been licensed.
Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, the president of the National Association of Resident Doctors which comprises 40% of Nigeria’s doctors said the government was not serious about the welfare of doctors. He added that lawmakers earn millions in allowances but doctors who save lives are given a pittance.
“Nigerian doctors are desperate to leave because we have not been paid for five months and we have bills to pay. We lost 19 doctors during Covid-19 and yet no insurance claims have been paid to the families.
“They pay N5,000 hazard allowance to doctors who get infected with Covid-19 or HIV in the course of their job. They pay lawmakers millions for allowances and pay doctors N170,000 per month,” Dr Okhuaihesuyi added.