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Brain drain: Many qualified doctors still unemployed in Nigeria – NMA President

The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Uche Rowland Ojinmah, has said in spite of the brain drain in the health sector, many qualified…

The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Uche Rowland Ojinmah, has said in spite of the brain drain in the health sector, many qualified doctors in Nigeria are still not employed.

He disclosed this while speaking on the exodus of Nigerian medical practitioners leaving the country for greener pastures abroad.
Recently a bill was sponsored by a lawmaker from Lagos, Hon. Ganiyu Abiodun Johnson, proposing a mandatory five-year work in Nigeria by Nigerian doctors before being given a full practicing licence. The bill had passed the second reading in the House of Representatives,
However, Ojinmah, while appearing on Channels Television’s programme, Politics Today on Wednesday, argued that notwithstanding the high number of medical practitioners leaving the country, there were still many doctors unemployed in the country.
He said: “Even based on the fact that doctors are leaving, some are still not employed and there is a story of one-for-one policy that they will start replacing those that leave immediately. Meanwhile, the policy has been on the drawing board for months and nothing is happening.”
He urged the government not to cut the head off to cure a headache, stressing that jobs and good remuneration should be given to the many doctors still seeking employment in the country.
At least, 13,609 Nigerian doctors have migrated to the UK alone in the past eight years which is third behind Pakistan and India.
Nigerian doctor’s to patient ratio stands at one doctor to 5,000 patients, which is far beyond the World Health Organisation’s recommended ratio of one doctor to 600 patients.
Dr Ojinma while explaining why doctors are leaving the country in droves said the ratio in rural areas and conflict zones is far worse.
“When you talk of rural areas, you may be talking about one to 9,000. When you talk of these areas where there is banditry and terrorism, it may be one in 20,000 or more,” he said.
He, however, argued that the logic being presented [on the floor of the House] in support of the bill does not make sense, saying the policy being suggested by the National Assembly is discriminatory.
“If everybody is being subsidized, you can not in a discriminatory manner go down to a few people. All that we have come to realise is that doctors are important just like other healthcare workers and the solution is to make a man that is important feel that he belongs to you.
“The pull factors are those things that are outside that are making them go which is not within our control while the push factors are the things within our control that are pushing them out of Nigeria.
“The first push factor is poverty. A newly trained doctor [abroad] is earning about £40,000 (about N22m at official exchange rate) per annum while our own is earning about N3million to N3.6million per annum. A fresh doctor in Nigeria earns in a year what a fresh doctor in the UK earns in a month,” said Dr Ojinma.
He also blamed the taxation policy in Nigeria which he said had been heavy on the doctors, saying that “we are treated like we are common and now they are crying that we should be held hostage.”
He also complained about insecurity in the land, arguing that doctors were being targeted by criminals.
Also, the NMA President said there was no equipment for doctors to work with in most hospitals in Nigeria.

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