It’s no longer news that Nigerian doctors are leaving the country in droves for greener pastures. According to the Nigerian Medical Association, of the 75,000 Nigerian doctors registered with the NMA, more than 33,000 have left the country, with 42,000 to take care of more than 200 million people. It’s not only doctors that are leaving, nurses, physiotherapists, radiographers, pharmacists, medical laboratory scientists, etc. But this piece is focused mainly on doctors.
Brain drain among doctors is not a new phenomenon. In Nigeria, it has been ongoing for years. But it has never jolted the Nigerian healthcare system as it has now. This is because the number of doctors leaving has risen astronomically.
Doctors are voting with their feet. Specialists, medical officers, retired doctors, and fresh from medical schools are all leaving. In final-year medical school classes; migrating abroad after qualifying is what is trending.
Every year, at least 2,000 doctors leave Nigeria for the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Europe, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, South Africa, Ghana, and some obscure countries.
The doctors who are abroad constantly pressure their colleagues who have stayed back to join them. Even when those in Nigeria remain resolute, the ones abroad will not give up.
Whatever it will take to heal our sickly healthcare system must be done. And must be done quickly too, while the “resolve” of doctors at home can still hold out!
Dr Cosmas Odoemena, a Consultant Family Physician and Fellow of the West African College of Physicians wrote from Lagos